alawi Police Service has directed armed police officers to accompany traffic officers when executing their duties on the country’s roads.
A police internal communication dated June 14 2022 signed by director of traffic Dorothy Kawale said the decision followed recent violence against traffic police officers.
Reads the statement in part: “You are being directed to make sure that you are accompanied by an armed police officer or have someone within the team to carry a rifle when going for or conducting traffic checks. No team should be found without a firearm.”
In an interview yesterday, National Police deputy spokesperson Harry Namwaza confirmed the directive, but said the move does not intend to intimidate motorists or civilians.
He said: “Police are well trained on how to handle firearms. They know under what circumstance a firearm can be used. So, I can’t comment much because the matter is to do with national security and the communication was internal.”
The directive comes a week after Inspector General (IG) of Police George Kainja expressed concern over the attacks on traffic police officers by motorists and civilians.
Road safety expert Chifwede Hara commended police for the move, saying the arrangement should have started long time ago.
He said: “It’s a good move, but police have to be very strict to use the weapons and they shouldn’t use them unnecessarily.
“They should also be able to treat motorists with respect. Most of them lack courtesy when handling motorists. They are supposed to explain the offences to motorists calmly.”
In an earlier interview, Kainja noted that enforcement of drink and drive law and frequent traffic police checks are among the major issues creating animosity between police and motorists.
He said his office has reports that some traffic officers have poor attitudes towards motorists, as such, they are working on ways to improve the relationship.
“We have agreed to develop a standard operating procedure in terms of how best we can place our officers. We should not tire people by stopping them almost every kilometre, that is delaying traffic,” said Kainja.
Last week, a viral video clip showed two traffic officers from Blantyre Police Station being pushed from a minibus they impounded in Blantyre central business district.
In May, a motorist injured three traffic officers on the Masauko Chipembere Highway in Blantyre following misunderstandings.
Earlier this year, a motorist in Mangochi fatally hit a female traffic officer while another traffic officer was killed by a motorist in Machinjiri in Blantyre.
Similar incidents also happened last year in Phalombe and Bvumbwe in Thyolo.