Capital FM (Nairobi)

20 November 2012

Kenya: Transporters Harassed for Bribes in East Africa

A report released by Transparency International shows that officers at regulatory authorities in East Africa demand the highest amount of bribes from transporters and drivers along the transport corridors.

The study conducted in Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda indicated that Kenya is the second in corruption levels after Tanzania in the amount of money taken as bribes from transit transporters and drivers.

"Tanzania's regulatory authorities ranked worst at Sh1.1 million followed by Kenya at Sh570,775. Uganda was third at Sh312, 120 while Rwanda ranked fourth at Sh57,715. Burundi had the lowest at Sh24,905," the report indicated.

Transparency International- Kenya Executive Director Samuel Kimeu said that bribery was high and severe at weighbridge stations and police roadblocks.

He said most of the 1,731 respondents interviewed in the five Eastern African countries in August and November 2011 bribed to overcome unnecessary delays and documentation required.

"Forty six percent of the transporters cited the likelihood of unnecessary delays as the major reason for having to pay bribes, followed by numerous documentation (20 percent), nine percent paid due to poor understanding of clearing procedures," the report showed.

Others said they pay bribes to avoid clearance procedures and high taxes levied on their goods.

Ironically, despite the high rates of bribery, very few drivers and transporters reported such incidents with concerned authorities. None of the Ugandan, Rwandan and Burundian transporters interviewed ever filed any complaint with police over bribery. In Kenya, 83 percent and in Tanzania 93 percent of the drivers and transporters refused to report bribery.

One of the reasons most respondents gave for failing to report is that they have accepted bribery as normal practice in East Africa.

Twenty eight percent said they did not report as they felt that no action would be taken by the authorities. Others felt that if they reported such incidents they would be victimised.

The report revealed that transporters and drivers anticipate bribery and in fact 46 percent pay before services are delivered. Twenty seven percent pay after service delivery and at least 16 percent paid at the time service is delivered.

The transporters said if they failed to pay bribes they would be delayed in their operations while other times they would be harassed by customs officials and even denied services. Others complained that they had been forced to pay fines or threatened with being completely locked out of business.

The report also revealed how illegal goods find their way in the five countries since transporters and drivers can pay bribes to avoid normal procedures.

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