The Sierra Leone Police has been exposed big time by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) in its latest report over illicit payments to some members of the force. The report is titled: “Ending Bribery for Traffic Officers in Sierra Leone.”
The report among other things exposed corruption among members of the force, especially the notorious Traffic Division, which it claimed received an estimated Le 81 billion in illicit payments made to traffic personnel in the Western Area in 2015.
According to IGR Executive Director, Andrew Lavali, three out of every five drivers interviewed during the process said they pay bribe whenever they are stopped by the police for minor traffic offences, with 60% of them claiming to have been paying bribes ranging from Le 5,000 to Le 20,000 to traffic personnel.
“This research surveyed the experience of 500 motorists and selected law enforcement agents.
It is estimated that at least Le 81 billion, which is 32% of revenue, from license fees and potential fines for traffic offences that were not paid to authorized revenue collection agencies,” said Mr. Lavali.
He further expressed concern that the country’s traffic regulations are somewhat vague with respect to what punitive measures should obtain for specific offences, adding that even the executive members of the Bike Riders Union also alleged that during the Ebola outbreak hundreds of motorbikes were arrested by the police and their membership is concerned that the issue remains unresolved.
In his remarks, Executive Director, Center for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Ibrahim Tommy, noted that corruption is a major canker worm undermining the development process of the country.
He made reference to several corruption allegations that emerged during the Ebola outbreak.
He noted that several organizations have issued out reports on corruption in the country, more especially on the police, adding that the IGR report is a collective continuation in the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone.
“The Transparency International Report (TI) on corruption and that of Afrobarometer always focus on holistic issues; this is the first time a local organization has gone ahead to quantify revenue lost as a result of corruption at a particular sector,” said Mr. Tommy.
He concluded by urging Sierra Leoneans to take the IGR report seriously so that punitive measures will be taken as those found culpable.
Deputy Chairman Motor Drivers’ Union, David Ahamed Conteh, described the report as timely and appropriate as his Union had raised several concerns to the authorities to regulate the activities of police officers.
He furthered that many police officers recruited to effectively control traffic on the road and ensure road safety are now having a field day lining their deep pockets.
Head of Traffic Division, Supt. Ambrose Sovula, in his response, said they were not prepared to contest the report since it is a public perception; noting that this is not the first time a report is accusing the police of corruption.
He advised drivers not to pay bribes to their personnel and promised that disciplinary action will be taken against any officer found guilty of soliciting and accepting bribe.