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Citizen Weekly

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Drama as wardens arrest traffic cops’ bribe picker


There was drama at the Nairobi Railways matatu terminus last Tuesday afternoon when bribe-thirsty prison wardens who have been poured on Nairobi streets to beef up security arrested two men well-known as bribe collectors of traffic police officers at the terminus.
The two wardens had observed that the two men were discreetly receiving money from touts of every matatu that picked passengers along the road that leads from the Railway Station to the Moi Avenue-Haile Sellasie Avenue roundabout. They pounced on the two and took them aside under the big tree at the corner on the fence of the Railway Headquarter offices opposite the bomb blast memorial park.
As the wardens asked them questions one phoned the police who were at the terminus who in turn dispatched a constable who intervened and had the two bribe pickers let go. The two bribe pickers, one a short dark pot-bellied clean shaven man who stays in Kibera and a brownish tallish bearded younger man all from Nyanza report to the terminus at sunrise and leave after sunset having collected thousands of shillings in Sh50s and Sh20s which they at intervals hand over to the traffic police at the Nyama Choma hotel next to the former Uchumi supermarket.
And it is not the two bribe pickers alone who have felt the presence of the prison wardens who are all over the town harassing law breakers and the law-abiding alike. According to those who have fallen victim to the prison wardens who have been crawling the streets sicne mid December, the wardens have returned Kenya to the dark days of 1990s Kenya when policemen would stop people on the streets and demand to know where one was going.
Today, woe onto you if you happen to find yourself in the Nairobi CBD without your national identify card or if you are having a bag. The wardens who seem hungrier for a bribe than any regular or administration police to ever walk the streets of Nairobi stop you, frisk your pockets and paperbag or bag you are carrying and depending on whether they think you are “prospective”, take you towards Central Police Station and stop you at the bus stop next to Jevanjee Gardens where you part with everything. The most notorious warden is a woman with hair-dyed a colourful purple who takes bribes right infront of the befuddled public.
As would be expected the entry of the wardens in Nairobi has not gone down well with the regular police and APs who feel it is as an encroachment of their territory. A regular policeman at the Central Police Station said that the wardens are trained on handling inmates and prisoners in jails and not law-abiding citizens that is why they have made Nairobi one big prison for everyone.
Also not going down with the regular police are the National Youth Service men and women who are now manning building in town to supplement the watchmen’s work. The NYS are now also controlling traffic something that traffic police are not happy with because it is disrupting their bribe-industry. The wardens have to their credit however reduced crime as the criminals who were enjoying protection of regular police are now running helter skelter. The problem though is that even when arrested, they are taken to the very police protectors who release them immediately. “Whoever brought the askari jela should have built them their own station,” a cop at Central is alleged to have said.