BY DOMINIC WABALA
Traffic Commandant Joseph ole Tito has ordered all traffic police away from roundabouts and junctions to allow free flow of vehicles. This is expected to cause traffic snarl-ups at junctions and roundabouts worse than previously witnessed in Nairobi. The memo issued by Tito and circulated to all divisional traffic officers directs them to withdraw police from the roundabouts or junctions and instead let motorists rely on traffic lights. Tito said police deployed at roundabouts and junctions will only stop traffic for emergency vehicles such as fire engines, ambulances and VIP motorcades.
Police will instead be expected to book and impound the driving licences of motorists who jump the lights. “We have been told to let motorists rely on traffic lights. We don’t know if it will succeed because Nairobi motorists don’t observe traffic rules or traffic lights but we have to follow orders,” said a junior officer who has been moved from the traffic detail but who is not allowed to speak on behalf of the police.
Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said the new rules which took effect on Monday will let traffic police concentrate their efforts on motorists who breach the rules. “Traffic police officers will especially target Public Service Vehicle drivers who are causing deaths on our roads. There is no reason why we should have people who don’t know why they have licences to carry passengers,” Kiraithe said.
This follows growing complaints by Nairobi motorists who accuse the police of hindering rather than facilitating smooth flow of traffic. Traffic police have been accused of causing traffic jams on Murang’a Road, Moi Avenue, Haile Selassie Avenue and Tom Mboya Street so that they could collect bribes from matatu operators, passengers and motorists.