Traffic Police – It Takes Two to Tango [editorial]

The police have intensified operations to weed out corrupt traffic officers. The traffic police chief Dr Steven Kasiima recently revealed that 22 officers had been arrested for allegedly taking bribes.

It is commendable that the police are trying to curb bribery amongst traffic officers which has become endemic. However, this problem must be seen in its proper context. First, it should be made clear that not all traffic police officers are corrupt.

A number of these men and women are doing a good job under very difficult circumstances. It would, therefore, be demoralising and counterproductive to stigmatise every traffic police officer by branding them corrupt.

Secondly, every driver who has ever given a bribe to a traffic police officer is as guilty as the receiving officer. Fighting bribery while concentrating on one side, the receiver, forgetting that if there was no giver, there would be no receiver, is not effective. It takes two to tango.

Thirdly, traffic police officers emanate from the same society as other Ugandans and currently, this society is deeply corruptible. Therefore, it would be more effective to adopt a multi-pronged strategy that combats bribery across the board.

Fourthly, traffic rules need to be strengthened and enforced strictly if bribery is to reduce. At the moment, bribery is an easy way out because there is a state of laissez-faire and no clear standards.

Motorists don’t take traffic rules seriously, let alone bothering to internalise them, because they know that in the worst case scenario that they are nabbed, they can negotiate their way out of trouble. Strengthening enforcement of the traffic law includes installing cameras on major roads and going as far as withdrawing driving licences from repeat offenders.

Without a holistic approach, this operation will come and go just as many others before it. Moreover, the pattern is familiar: the president complains and the police chief has to be seen to be doing something. With all due to respect to the police leadership and its good intentions, it will take more than kneejerk reaction to fix this problem.

Source : The Observer

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