Police defy minister

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POLICE in Lusaka have defied the directive by Home Affairs Minister Davis Mwila to stop mounting road indiscriminate blocks, causing anger among motorists.

Instead Lusaka Traffic Police have intensified their roadblocks and speed control checks, mounting these in major road arteries joining Cairo Road in Lusaka and on the Great East Road.
The roadblocks are mounted at peak traffic hours causing congestion, especially along the Great East Road where a speed check and almost permanent road block has been established near the Mulungushi Conference Centre where motorists are made pay or receive charge sheets, but often times motorists prefer the “easy” way out and pay to avoid inconvenience
Last Saturday and Sunday police officers on motor cycles assisted by patrol officers mounted moving road blocks in the heart of the city checking for fitness licenses and road taxes and in the process causing major traffic jams. .
The main targets of the roadblocks in many cases are minibus drivers who were made to hand over keys and driving licenses until they made “peace”, many times in full view of passengers in the buses.
Lusaka motorists were however yesterday incensed that while Police were manning an impromptu roadblock on Kalambo road near the Zambia Revenue Authority; traffic had come to a standstill on adjacent Lumumba Road following an accident in which a truck carrying crates of beer spilled part of the road leading to a stampede of looting.
In the absence of traffic officer who were mounting a roadblock motorists were forced to control and marshal into single lanes.
Early this year Mr Mwila directed the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and Police to stop mounting what he termed unnecessary roadblocks because they were nothing but an inconvenience to motorists and a source of corruption.
The motorists have now appealed to Mr Mwila to consider taking action against police officers who were mounting roadblocks and harassing motorists apart from demanding bribes.
They have also called on the Anti-Corruption Commission to undertake surprise chacks at roadblocks to stop open corruption.
But Inspector General of Police Stella Libongani when contacted said the police had reduced roadblocks across the country in conformity with the directive from Mr Mwila.
Ms Libongani said Mr Mwila did not ban roadblocks in the country but had directed that they should be reduced because it was would be risky to completely disband police check points.
“We have reduced the mounting of roadblocks across the country in conformity with the directive from the Minister. It is not true that the Minister had banned the mounting of roadblocks but had directed that they should be reduced,” Ms Libongani said.

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