Following our discovery of the unscrupulous ways Cashgate City traffic officers posted with cameras along the NRC-Crossroads portion of the Lilongwe-Mchinji Highway use to exact money from Malawi’s mostly fearful, legally uninformed and unaware, nervous and hurried motorists, a number of motorists have come forward with virulent, vitriolic, and vituperative testimonies. In the name of public and national moral decency, we can only reproduce two mild contributions here:
Dear Team Bottom-Up
What you wrote in the Weekend Nation of 19 March 2016 on the above subject was absolutely true. I have another example which I would love the authorities to know and answer.
In November last year I went to book for a COF test for my fairly old vehicle at Mzuzu Road Traffic Office. I was asked to present the motor vehicle registration certificate. The booking office clerk looked at my document and punched some keys onto his computer. A few moments later, he returned my document to me saying the chassis number did not have enough digits/letters, and therefore the system couldn’t process the booking.
The same clerk advised me to go the Interpol office at the Northern Region Police Headquarters in Mzuzu for the problem to be regularised. Before I went to the Interpol, I checked the chassis number on my vehicle. I discovered that only six of the eleven or so digits/letters on the vehicle were printed in the registration certificate.
When I got to the Interpol office I was asked to pay K5 000 before they could sort out my problem. Surprised, I asked them if it was my fault that some of the digits/letters were not printed on the registration certificate. I was told to ‘just go away if you do not want to pay because you are wasting our time’.
I tried to reason with them that the chassis numbers are entered by Road Traffic and if its staff made a mistake at the time of registering the vehicle, why should I be made to pay for the correction? Well, I had the K5 000, but I found it unfair to have to pay.
As I was leaving the Interpol office, another person who had paid for the same service told me that like me, he had not received an official government receipt but just a note to the Road Traffic stating that the complete chassis number may be entered in their system since the vehicle has been cleared.
At Road Traffic, a fairly senior official told me that before the new computerised system was implemented, chassis numbers were not always quoted in full because they were considered to be too long, and he also agreed that it was not the vehicle owners’ problem. He, however, told me that the Road Traffic Department had no control over the Interpol office’s demand for K5 000 to clear the vehicles.
The senior official promised to take up the matter with his head office in Lilongwe, but up to now Interpol is charging K5 000 and not issuing receipts. The sad part is that those of us affected are those driving old vehicles which were registered a long time ago.
Is this not theft by the police on behalf of the government if indeed the cash goes into government coffers? How does the Interpol office account for the money to the government if the office does not issue any receipts for the payments?
This practice of fleecing motorists by force must come to the end.
Hi Team Bottom-Up
I am glad you wrote on the daylight robbery exercised by the Police traffic department on the Lilongwe-Mchinji road, especially between Crossroads and NRC. I stopped one day to ask them why the speed limit is 50kph. Their boss that day murmured something like, “this is a built up area”. I argued that there is no signpost anywhere.
As usual they threatened to arrest me. I feel we need a few of us who use this road frequently to go and confront the bosses at area 30 about this robbery. It’s not right to be abused in this way.