REVEALED: Behind the scenes wrangles between traffic police officers and NTSA
The bad blood between the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and traffic police officers seconded to the agency has spilled out in public with both sides engaging in a blame game.
The intense infighting between the authority officers and their traffic counterparts may have compromised traffic rules with the road carnage taking a steady rise over the last few months.
A random interview by Nation with some police officers who were attached to NTSA along the stretch between Salgaa and Kamara along Nakuru -Eldoret highway revealed gaps that might have contributed to a series of accidents along the killer stretch.
Some of the officers who spoke to Nation said NTSA was not an honest enforcement agency.
“Truth be told, with the current bad blood between NTSA officers and police officers seconded to the authority, this is like a house under turmoil, confusion and vested interests,” said a senior police officer at Sachang’wan.
The last tragic accident at Migaa area along the stretch on the eve of New Year killed at least 36 people. Another accident claimed two lives.
President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday directed NTSA officers to withdraw from the roads and leave the work to traffic officers, which appears to be welcome news to the latter.
A junior police officer claimed that it was a tall order to expect NTSA to implement traffic rules in the spirit of the law when there was constant interference by their senior officers.
“The will to enforce traffic rules died at the birth of NTSA as vested interest took centre stage,” said the police officer. “I was not surprised by the President’s directive as it was long overdue,” he added.
Junior NTSA officers at Sachang’wan did not have kind words for their bosses in Nairobi either and confessed that their seniors had no proper planning structures to enforce the law to reduce road carnage.
For instance, a senior deputy director in charge of road safety, while visiting Sachang’wan on patrol, saw a speeding Public Service Vehicle and ordered NTSA driver on standby to chase it. The driver refused to take the orders.
“Our director knew very well that my mandate does not involve chasing speeding vehicles yet he insisted I chase it which is wrong as I could cause a serious accident while pursuing it,” said the NTSA officer who sought anonymity.
Last December, NTSA was accused of chasing a vehicle along the killer stretch which is said to have caused a serious accident involving a Coast Bus that killed at least 17 people.
However, embattled NTSA Director General Francis Meja denied the claims and absolved the authority from the blame.
Frustration among the police officers attached to NTSA have been the order of the day, it has emerged.
“We could arrest drivers intoxicated or overworked heavy scheduled but when you charge them they are set free because of high level corruption and interference by NTSA officers and senior police officers,” said another police officer.
The police officers said that in some instances, they opted to protect their job as they were earning good allowances.
“Any police officers attached to NTSA would tell you that they would rather not prosecute a serious road accident traffic rule if the senior police officers have an interest as they may be transferred to hardship areas and lose the allowances,” said a senior police officer attached to NTSA along the dangerous stretch.
He confessed that on several occasions, some of the senior police officers had intervened whenever their relatives and close friends had been arrested at road blocks and they were set free on ‘orders from above.’