It didn’t take me long to notice many policemen around town. Funny enough, they were all traffic police.
I have nothing against them doing their job. What is troubling is that many of them are a nuisance to those on the roads of Malawi.
Tough and uncompromising as some of these law enforcers can be, you wonder how some minibuses, which in all fairness should be boarded off as wrecks, continue to ply the roads. Until you discover that they are the police officer’s number one money making machines.
This is Malawi where anything is pretty much possible especially when it involves corruption.
Some may think I’m being too harsh on the police but after having my own encounters with them, I’m sorry to say that something needs to be done about the road traffic rules and regulations.
First of all, most of them need to go back for training on how to properly handle situations on the road.
I’ll give an example. I was pulled over for driving a car without reflectors. I had no idea what they were so obviously I asked and she pointed to a car parked some distance from where I was.
I asked another question, “What are they for?” She then explained but went on to say that it was an offense because I was supposed to have them on the car from the border.
I told her I had no idea I was supposed to have them on the car and the response was “Ignorance is not an excuse!”
It was at this point that I started boiling. To cut a long story short, all plans for whatever I was meant to do that afternoon came to a complete halt.
Three hours later I was still parked at the road side after having told her that she could write a receipt and we’d see each other in court.
After she took off I asked one of the other cops where I could get the reflectors and for how much. Imagine my surprise that they only cost at the most about MK500.00 only and yet I was expected to pay a fine of MK4, 000.00. If she thought I would pay that amount she was crazy.
Limbe police station.
I needed a police report. In order for them to issue one they had to see the car. While outside in the car park this lady boldly told me that for her to speed up the paperwork they [the police] ask that I help them out with money for airtime so they can call Interpol to clear the car.
I informed her that the car would not have left the USA if it was stolen or still on loan.
Yes they have to do their job, but isn’t the MK5, 000.00 enough to cover the cost of them doing their job? Why should I pay extra for something that should be included in the administrative costs?
Can someone explain to me why the phone at one of the main police stations in the country are not functional or why they don’t have internet in this day and age of advanced technology for them to use and work faster in submitting forms, etc…?
Just like the traffic police, they find ways of making the extra money and yet they don’t even call the Interpol as was the case for me. A simple MK1, 500.00 for their lunch did the trick. Within minutes I was out of the office and on my way to the road traffic.
If I hadn’t gone that route, it would have meant a long wait of possibly up to a year which then meant no car on the road as that would be an offense every time they would pull me over.
Malawi Revenue Authority and Road Traffic
It’s funny how the two are government offices but when you arrive outside the offices you are greeted by people who work in sync with the government employees in the actual offices.
How the government has turned their eyes away on such practices is beyond me but it is common knowledge that the employees at these offices have their own employees who get customers and siphon all the funds that should be going to the government in form of taxes. What do I mean by this?
The people outside the offices work tax free and yet make lots of money which they split with their employers/partners. Would it be a bad idea to employ these people in government as a way of job creation? Is the government so rich they don’t need the money? And why are these people bold enough to be outside government offices like what they are doing? Is it not a crime? Should we condone this behaviour?
As for the traffic police, when I mentioned how they are a nuisance on the roads and complained as to why they don’t have a system which to use to identify who has been already stopped by one of them in a day I was told that things would not change anytime soon, that I needed to get used to them as this was Malawi and not the USA.
Sad that even the police know that the system is so messed up that they take advantage of the situation and rip people off.
Another thing I got beef with is the numerous tickets they keep handing out on the roads. Does the government have a way of checking just how much revenue is collected and actually delivered to their coffers?
I see no duplicate receipts so how can they tell if they received the money and just how much each ticket was and for what offense?
This may seem like a simple case of getting money but it can also serve them to have statistics on common offenses and what they can do in terms of training and educating the people so as to improve the standards of drivers on the roads of Malawi.
In a day when getting news is vital to dispense the necessary information to the people we are yet again stumbling on a road block. I’m not too sure if it is inefficiency or lack of money but either way, as is in the case of the police department and other institutions, funds for things like logistics, communication (internet or phone) should be in their budget.
It is sad when you are given a reporter they call you asking about logistics. Not only that, for your article to appear in their paper i.e. after you have paid for transport they want a little something to oil their palms to get the article in the paper. Shouldn’t they be the ones chasing after the news because that is why their papers are functional? Is it not their job?
Their job depends on us giving them news so really it should be the other way round, not us chasing after them but them chasing after the news.
Why is it that most people in our country want to get paid to do their jobs and yet they are already on salary? You see a lot of this in so many institutions, and it’s not funny. Failure to give them a little something will slow down any business which in turn hurts you more than it does them.
Have we got to the point where we can’t work anymore? Are we overvaluing ourselves? Could it be because we have a culture or people who think doing certain jobs are beneath them or they don’t have the time to be bothered to check on their subordinates to ensure that they are actually doing their job as required?
Sadly, to quote the bold policeman, nothing will change anytime soon. Once again, people are resigning to life the way it is.
As for me, when not on the minibus, I argue until they get tired of me and let me go.
Ignorance may not be an excuse but it is their duty to educate the drivers on the road before they issue their tickets without warning.
It’s insane that the way the economy is one should be constantly be punished for owning a car. It’s not all people with cars who have money to be handing out to the policemen. I’m a good example of that.
As for the ones in other institutions, this type of inefficiency though condoned by some should not be accepted at all. In this day and age we should be able to do away with such mediocrity.
There is a high rate of unemployment and if they don’t or can’t do their jobs effectively then maybe it’s time we went back to the drawing board; train those who want jobs.
We need to have a country where people get satisfied with their salaries and not demand extra pay to do work they are already salaried for.