Traffic penalty: Address corruption in police first
What you need to know:
- As one of the key government institutions that deals with thousands of Ugandans daily, the police need to put its house in order and clean up its image. Ugandans need to trust the institution they run to first whenever they are in trouble
This week, the Uganda Police Force resumed operations to recover Express Penalty Scheme (EPS) arrears from errant motorists, months after investigations into suspected fraud in the system.
Police are demanding billions of shillings from EPS defaulters, but recovery of money from the issued EPS tickets hit a snag after it was discovered that the IT system was manipulated by police officers who deleted names of defaulters, making it difficult for enforcement officers to trace them. It is reported that up to Shs5b in unpaid EPS tickets had been illegally removed from the recovery system.
The EPS scheme was established under Section 165 of the Traffic and Road Safety Act, 1998, to deal with minor traffic offenders.
The main objective of the scheme was to discourage road users from committing offences, by levying express penalties – ranging from Shs20,000 to Shs200,0000 – that would help to decongest courts. Off-enders have to pay or clear within 28 days, thereafter, according to police, “One may face a surcharge for late payment of 50 per cent, or have their motor vehicle impounded, their driving licence not renewed, pending clearance of the traffic ticket or taken to court.”
However, the corruption that is eating up Ugandan society has slowly crept into the Force that is supposed to protect life and property. According to Afrobarometer research released early this year, Uganda’s police are widely perceived as corrupt and enjoy relatively weak public trust.
In perceived corruption among government institutions, 75 per cent of Ugandans said Uganda Police Force was the most corrupt. And to find out that someone, or a group of people, within the Force compromised the IT system and deleted the names of some EPS defaulters should be a national crisis.
If police records can be accessed and wiped out, then who will protect Ugandans? As one of the key government institutions that deals with thousands of Ugandans daily, the police need to put its house in order and clean up its image.
Ugandans need to trust the institution they run to first whenever they are in trouble. Then, police need to make cracking down on EPS defaulters a routine. There are hundreds of traffic police officers deployed on highways and urban areas daily.
These should arrest defaulters, instead of waiting for operations that come once in a while. Finally, motorists have previously asked the government to integrate traffic fines into the URA system so that those buying cars can know if the cars they are buying have any fines on them. This should not be too much to ask with all the IT systems government has built