KAMPALA- More than 700 traffic police officers have been ejected from the directorate of traffic and road safety over allegations of corruption.
The removal of the traffic officers has caused manpower shortage on roads, which some traffic officers say has triggered a rise in motor accidents since mid this year.
The Traffic and Road Safety spokesman, Mr Charles Ssebambulidde, said the 700 officers were forced out from the directorate between 2014 and August 2017.
“Many of the cases involved officers arrested over involvement in extortion or soliciting bribes. Others would allow cars in dangerous mechanic condition on roads. All those found to have violated our standards were reverted to the directorate of human resource administration and management,” Mr Ssebambulidde said.
Many affected were traffic officers on roads in Kampala Metropolitan police area and on the key highways of Kampala-Masaka-Mbarara, Kampala-Jinja-Malaba, and on Kampala-Gulu.
Some of the officers relieved of traffic duties have been sent to the Field Force Unit and the General Duties Unit for redeployment. The two units are considered by most police officers as dry – a term used within the Force to mean posts without allowances or inducements.
Following the removal of the errant officers, the manpower at the directorate of traffic and road safety, has dropped to only 1,000 personnel from 2,000 strong three years prior.
Road accidents on the country’s highways have increased after a slump following a relentless traffic operation dubbed Fika Salama (arrive safely).
But some of the affected officers told Daily Monitor that they were victimised by their superiors.
Many said their removal was linked to giving penalty tickets or impounding motor vehicles belonging to “persons with connections to their superiors”. Others claimed they weren’t given a hearing before being forced out.
But police traffic commanders dismissed the allegations as false.
Mr Ssebambulidde said the drop is stressing them, but they would rather have fewer officers on the road than big and inefficient numbers.
“We have asked for new officers with a good record to fill those gaps,” he said.
Police managers are normally quite cautious when recruiting officers to join traffic police since they (officers) aren’t armed while executing duties.
The operation to discipline the traffic officers started in 2014 when President Museveni accused them of corruption, which he said had led to delay and increase in the cost of doing business in Uganda and neighbouring countries.
Mr Museveni then ordered the removal of traffic road blocks on highways, which he said are erected with the intention of collecting bribes from motorists.