Kenyan corrupt traffic law enforcement officers have now found a more efficient way to collect bribes using a mobile money transfer system that was was originally designed for repayment of micro-finance loans and transfer of small amount of money between urban and rural dwellers.
A recent survey by Afrobarometer covering 34 African nations showed nearly one-third of Africans sat they have been forced to pay bribes including for medical treatment. The survey also found it was often the poorest people in each country who were pressured to pay bribes at health clinics and hospitals.
Kenya’s police force has topped the most corrupt institution in the country for decades and it’s not uncommon to see them asking or receiving bribes in total disregard who is watching them.
Systems such as Safaricom’s ‘M-pesa’ and Airtel’s ‘Zap’ now let people do everything from transferring money, operate their banks accounts, pay for bills, save and even access loans from commercial banks.
The Daily Nation reported that corrupt policemen are also keeping abreast with the mobile payment service, and have turned to mobile phone transactions and brokers to avoid arrest or detection. But the discreet methods these rouge law enforcement officers use to receive bribes have not prevented researchers from gathering facts and presenting the annual indexes.
Traffic police have been noted to be the most notorious in the vice. At a traffic roadblock, the bus conductor would squeeze a 100 shilling note (about $1.2) into a tiny ball as a police officer pretends to check the validity of insurance stickers on the windscreen. The officer allows the vehicle to proceed and picks the note after it drives away.
A driver could also hand over his license booklet to an officer but with a bank note neatly placed inside. The officer would constantly stash the notes in a pouch hidden by the road and take away the money at the end of the day.
Recently, the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission found out such cases may have reduced, but warned that the level of corruption by traffic police officers remained high, thanks to advances in technology. Detectives at the commission unearthed a new method by which corrupt officers receive bribes via mobile phone-based technology.
It was discovered after officers on such assignments were found to be regularly receiving money through cashing agents of mobile phone companies. Regular senders were found to be public vehicle operators, according to a KACC detective who spoke to the Nation.
Long distance truck transporters were also found to be culpable for regularly breaking highway regulations like overloading, exceeding axle limits, smuggling and transporting contraband goods.
A report by the commission seen by the Nation indicated: “Corruption in the police force has come under increasing scrutiny in recent times. Along with the increasing frequency of bribery, are special challenges presented by the sophisticated methods applied.”