I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.

~George Bernard Shaw

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Factors fueling traffic corruption

Am sure most people tend to blame law enforcement officers as perpetrators of traffic corruption. Well indeed this is the demand side. What about the supply side - Motorists. A lot of drivers are guilty of offering bribes for contravening traffic regulations. Imagine if the supply of bribes is curtailed. If all drivers took the responsibility of ensuring that the state of their vehicle is roadworthy and all traffic regulations adhered to, chances are that since they are on the side of the law, they will not tolerate paying a bribe... PAY FOR WHAT?
An examination of traffic corruption in Zambia that takes place between public transport drivers and law enforcement officers show that the fact that public transport drivers constantly break traffic regulations, this fuels traffic corruption. Factors that stimulate traffic corruption with regard to public transport operators include the following:
 i) The taxi and bus drivers are not often the owners of the vehicles. The drivers are given cash targets that have to be met daily. This often makes them be in a rush always to pick and drop customers and in the process a number of traffic regulations are broken due to careless driving.
ii) There is a high number of illegally (corruptly) obtained public transport drivers licences. This means that among the drivers, some of them are not qualified to drive. This further implies that these unqualified drivers do not know the traffic regulations, especially pertaining to public transport operations. 
iii) Related to the above, most drivers are not formally educated on the traffic regulations as the training for driving may have been conducted by anybody other than formal driving schools. 
iv) A number of public transport vehicles are often not certified road worthy, insured and not issued with the required transport operator’s permit.  This compromised the integrity of the driver and predisposes the driver to corrupt activities with traffic officers. 
v) When an offence has been committed, the owner of the vehicle is requested to go and resolve the problem. Since the owner of the vehicle and the driver want to have  the vehicle back on the road to make money, and having the vehicle impounded by traffic officers is loss of business, a lot of corruption takes place involving drivers, the owners of the vehicles and traffic officers. Most of this corruption is never reported since there is an implied satisfaction for all parties involved.  
vi)The greed for money exhibited by traffic officers make them go out to find offences even where they do not exist and extort money from often innocent motorists. 
vii) The numerous police check points in the country found at almost every main entry or exit road of a town and along highways and the frequent traffic road blocks or mounted speed traps in the inner routes of towns create opportunities for corruption. While random police checks are necessary, the regular and permanent check points have been viewed by many people as not serving any purpose other than perpetrating corruption.


  1. Mr. Moono, this is a very interesting project and very appropriate especially that traffic corruption is rife in Zambia. Perhaps just an addition on the factors that stimulate traffic corruption. I have had a face to face interaction with bus drivers and conductors operating from Kulima Tower and UTH bus stations. At both stations, the issue of high penalty fees came out prominently. Their arguement is that the fines are just too high that they always find it favourable to pay a small bribe to a traffic officer than paying high pelnalty fees to RTSA. The challenge here is that reducing penalty fees would again make drivers flout the traffic rules with impunity knowing that they can easily pay without feeling it.

  2. I totally agree with you Chiko. I guess its another difficult situation. That is probably the more reason why there is need to target them. Curtail the supply side, make them see the benefits of staying on the side of the law at all times.