Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Traffic Police beg too much – motorists

(I have seen what i have written here, but i went to interview a few motorists around Mzuzu City. the drivers' identity have been hidden for fear of reprehension)

Some motorists in Mzuzu have alleged and complained that police officers who man roadblocks siphon money from them using bogus fines and persistent begging.

A snap survey of minibus and taxi drivers in Mzuzu established that uniformed officers deliberately delay the opening of roadblock gates and only do so when a driver gives them something. Items that drivers claim to have parted with include money, beer and food items.

a minibus driver who plies the Dwangwa-Salima route said that the officers sometimes just charge motorists with petty crimes and sometimes bogus ones, he said the most common among the crimes is when the motorists use seats to carry luggage, they say the officers demand K3, 000 for it and yet big buses like AXA are not pestered for the same ‘offence.’

“The strange thing is that one doesn’t get a receipt most of the times and sometimes you note that the officers give you fake receipts, they produce it without using the carbon paper and sometimes it’s not the standard general receipt,” alleged a driver who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Another driver said he pays silently because if he doesn’t the officers are bent on frustrating them by delaying the vehicle. He added that as much as he knows that government is losing revenue and corruption is being seasoned, he cannot do otherwise because even when the vehicle is top notch condition the officers still ask “ya Fanta bwanji bwana.”

A taxi driver who uses the Karonga Road also confirmed the development and said the North is worst hit by such pestering because he has operated in the south and the central without many of such problems.

He said the problem is that many taxi and minibus drivers are not qualified and that makes the police take advantage of them. He also said that expensive looking cars are not pestered.

“The easiest qualification in Malawi is the drivers’ license and that has seen a lot of illiteracy in the drivers which leaves them open to manipulation,” he said.

He also alleged that the Malawi Revenue Authority officers are not spared in the corruption; he said that during the campaign where the quarterly provisional tax is collected from motorists, many motorists pay half of the amount without getting receipts.

He proposed that the MRA have a database that should show those vehicles that have not paid so that those that bribed officers should still have arrears.

When contacted Mzuzu Police spokesperson, Edward Longwe, expressed ignorance and said there was no report or evidence for him to comment from.

“There are relevant offices for them to go to; the ACB [Anti Corruption Bureau] not the media,” Longwe said.

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