How Police Force Drivers to Pay Bribes

Andrew Mwangi strolled around shops looking for change for a Sh1,000 note as his wife packed travel luggage in the trunk of their vehicle. He does this every time he travels in order to have cash on hand in case he gets stopped by the authorities.

“When I’m pulled over by the police on the road, I divide the cash into Sh100 notes, which I hand over to them. You know they can’t give change if you hand them the entire Sh1,000 note, Andrew stated.

Andrew offers a bribe ranging from Sh100 to Sh1,000 depending on what the police decide to charge him with. He claimed that these persons “just stop you to acquire money, not always for a serious check.”

He spent Sh1,100 on bribery on that particular trip between Nairobi and Mombasa. Instead of wasting time, he added, “I would rather give them the money and continue with the journey.”

Many Kenyans, like Andrew, set aside bribe money while traveling on Kenyan highways. Police even set up roadblocks where they take money from motorists who are frightened of being prosecuted.

When Andrew tried to be adamant once, an officer approached him and said, “Inakuanga ngumu sana unajua kotini. You are aware that there are inconveniences in court. Toa tu hii kidogo tukuachilie. Pay a bribe, and we’ll liberate you).”

After Felix Owiti was involved in a small accident a week ago, he was forced to bribe police officials in Umoja. Owiti claims, “I scraped someone’s car who, after we failed to agree, approached the adjacent police officers.”

The two were requested to drive to the police station as was to be expected, but they both refused. The officers wouldn’t leave the scene without a payment of Sh2,000, however the two would eventually agree that Owiti should pay for the damaged automobile. The officers gave them a stern “Twendeni station basi” warning.

Owiti intervened and began negotiating with them. Later, they decided to accept Sh1,000. Instead than wasting time with them, he reasoned, “it is quicker to give them the money.”


Additionally, the police demand bribes in order to produce favorable reports about accidents for insurance firms. Eunice Mathai claims, “I recently rear-ended a car and the officer who arrived at the scene demanded money so he could write a ‘positive’ report as I needed the insurance to fix the car.

The officer informed her, “Unajua ni wewe uko na makosa na insurance itakataa kukulipa.” But instead of caving in to pressure, she instructed him to simply record what he witnessed.

When caught and told they are speeding, drivers on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway have also found themselves in trouble. The lack of distinct road markers showing where the 50 km/h speed restriction restriction begins on the highway

Joseph Kariuki, a former Star digital editor, was recently detained at Timboroa on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway and charged with speeding. Justice-loving Kariuki declined to pay a bribe that his arresting officers had publicly demanded.

Instead, he requested that they schedule him for a case. If he persisted, the officer informed him, “Do you know you will be required to travel all the way to Eldama Ravine court to attend to your case.”

But Kariuki insisted on being taken into custody. I was handed a bond of Sh5,000 for exceeding the posted speed limit of 50 km/h on a motorway in Timboroa, the man claimed.

Only two of the more than 20 vehicles that were stopped alongside him, according to Kariuki, refused to pay a bribe. “We had a lot of drivers. The majority of them, sadly, paid bribes, he claimed.

Bringing a traffic offender to court who is prepared to enter a guilty plea is a waste of time for the judge. There should be a method for paying immediate fines.


After that, Kariuki would have to travel almost 250 kilometres from Nairobi to the court the following Wednesday. “The police take advantage of this. They can more easily blackmail travelers because they are aware that most individuals cannot afford to fly all the way.

He was accused of violating Section 42 (1) of the Traffic Act Cap 403 by exceeding the posted speed limit. Kariuki was allegedly traveling at 68 kph on a sector where the speed limit was 50 kph, according to the police.

Kariuki was operating a Honda Fit, but the charge sheet claimed he was operating a Toyota Honda, a nonexistent make. On a bail of Sh5,000, he was released. On June 6, the case will be addressed, and he will have to return to Nairobi, where he currently resides, to attend court.

Juma Olago, his attorney who has himself been detained numerous times for traffic offenses, asserts that they will pursue the matter to its conclusion and notes that such offenses are now more of a nuisance than a means of enforcing the law.

The system is incredibly ineffective. It harms people who opt to follow the law and defend their rights, he claimed.

Juma recalls one instance when he was detained by Salgaa police for violating the rules of the lane, and the police really beat him for refusing to pay a bribe.

The policemen tried to get me to change my mind and give them a bribe, which they had gradually decreased from Sh10,000 to Sh2,000, Olago claimed. “I was detained at 9am, and trust me, I was still at the police station until 3pm,” he said.

According to him, the police deliberately make things tough for people who don’t want to do things their way in order to deny them cash bail. On the appointed date, he would appear in court and enter a guilty plea.

Olago claimed that minor traffic violations are clogging up the judicial system and creating a backlog. “Bringing a traffic offender to court who is prepared to enter a guilty plea is a waste of time for the judge. Such individuals ought to be able to pay fines without appearing in court. Adding their fines to their tax, for instance “explained Olago.

He claimed that the legal system had failed to safeguard drivers from lawbreakers.

Olago stated that Kenha speed signs should be prominently placed so that all drivers may see them. He claimed that the police were currently using those signs as bribe-taking traps.

Wezi Hawa watu ukiwaona hapa (When you see these guys here, they are thieves.
Bus driver at Waiyaki Way roadblock

Targeted PSVs

The employees who collect fares on public transportation are easy pickings for the traffic police. Right outside Kabete Police Station, police have a permanent roadblock on Waiyaki Way where they halt and demand bribes from passing buses and matatus.

When stopped, matatu drivers said they part with Sh50, whereas bus drivers part with Sh100. A bus driver who wished to remain anonymous described the police officers manning the roadblock as “these folks when you see them here, they are crooks.”

The motorist reported that he had been stopped five times that day and given Sh100 each time. “Even if he is your brother or sister, you should never trust a police officer. All of them are corrupt “said the driver.

According to Wahome Thuku, a High Court attorney, Kenya’s traffic rules are problematic since the mechanism for prosecuting violators is poorly organized and competes with corruption in terms of punishment.

“Consider the scenario where the fine for speeding is Sh20,000 but the bribe is Sh2,000. Once more, they leave too much room for the magistrate’s judgment “Wahome said.

Every offender, he claims, ought to be aware of the precise fine even before appearing in court. Offenders are currently at the mercy of the judiciary and crooked cops, he claimed.

Wahome claims that police roadblocks are a waste of time because he has been charged with traffic offenses in court and has prevailed in each instance. “They force offenders to guess where law enforcement will be. The ideal police are mobile.”

He has advocated against police impunity and has charged people of traffic offenses who weren’t guilty. “I stand up for those who have been accused of not paying bribes. I never stand up for those who have not been falsely charged. If someone was rightfully charged, I wouldn’t argue against it “said he.

One of the issues that the recently appointed police chief Hillary Mutyambai, who assumed office a month ago, hopes to address soon is corruption on the roadways.

In a phone conversation, Mutyambai stated, “Yes, I do have a concept of eliminating obstacles and making the remaining ones centers of combating corruption.

Despite the fact that he claims to still be considering the idea, he claimed that the roadblocks would be manned by DCI agents and even have CCTV cameras installed.

What do you think?

Written by Esther Oyugi

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