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Road trip

On Saturday I got into a 4×4 and took part in a 460km road trip around rural Kenya. One of the most notable things in the journey were the frequent police roadblocks, each consisting of two rather sinister looking yellow metal strips on the road with spikes pointing upwards. These were accompanied by at least a couple of police officers.

Government sources tell me that they are essential in the fight against crime. On the other hand, ordinary citizens are rather more cynical, saying that criminals can bribe their way through them and that they are just a way of fleecing drivers who are made to pay fees. 99% of the time no receipt is given.

We were luckly. Apparently the police don’t like to try it on with 4x4s containing someone who is white and might be World Bank or a journalist. But for ordinary Kenyan drivers, the roadblocks are a menace, delaying journeys and breeding petty corruption.

(My visit to Kenya is being blogged here.)

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11 comments to Road trip

  • Jake

    Call me old fashioned, but I refuse to take trips to countries that need to have frequent police roadblocks to combat crime.

  • Call me old fashioned, but I refuse to take trips to countries that need to have frequent police roadblocks to combat crime

    Avoid the UK then, because the only difference is that they do it via CCTV and the shakedown comes in the post a few days later.

  • Sounds like the Kenyans have been sending exchange students to the Mexican Police Academy…

  • LOL! How perceptive is Mike Lorrey!?

    Here in north-eastern Mexico, the traffice cops of certain localities are notorious for ‘putting the bite’ on motorists for the slightest infraction, real or imagined.

    They usually back down when a white-boy starts shouting at them in good street-Spanish and realise the effort isn’t worth it.

  • tebbit

    Avoid the UK then, because the only difference is that they do it via CCTV and the shakedown comes in the post a few days later.
    oh, the horror — speed cameras encroaching on your personal liberty!

  • veryretired

    The myth of public service—government as some sort of selfless committment to the public good.

    Government has been, and continues to be, a business enterprise. From the little corner roadblock to the impressive office in the newly remodeled palace where the money changes hands in suitcases, or little envelopes with secret bank account numbers, in exchange for the mineral lease or required permit, government is an enterprise devoted to the provision of a living for its members.

    Until that simple fact can be drilled into the heads of the average member of society, and they can begin to see the enormity of the scam, there will be no progress made in dismantling these cancerous Ponzi schemes, and relieving the average working citizen from the theft of untold billions diverted from productive, creative work, and wasted on graft and meaningless political balderdash such as the “bridge to nowhere”.

    It is the task of any person who has realized the scale, and malevolence, of this ongoing criminal enterprise to get his hands dirty by challenging, in every venue possible, any continuation or expansion of this con game. And dirty, as well as dangerous, is exactly what this job is, but it may be the most crucial work that needs to be done.

    All other developments will be wasted, or perverted to an inimical use, if this cancerous growth is not excised.

  • Jacob

    veryretired,
    I’d rather have the roadblocks of Kenya wich shake you for a couple of bucks, than the prevailing regulation and taxation of the West.

  • ResidentAlien

    Two graduates of a 1970s era international development course for government bureaucrats at a trendy Western institute keep in touch after graduating. One is African the other Asian. Twenty years later the African goes to visit the Asian at his large house in the suburbs of a booming city. The African congratulates him on how well he has done. After a few whiskies out on his terrace he confesses the source of his wealth. “You see that highway overpass,” he confides rubbing his fingers together in the international sign for money, “5% for me.”

    The following year the Asian visits the African. He lives in a palatial residence standing far higher than anything else in the flyblown wasteland. His house teems with a multitude of servants. The Asian enquires how he has been able to amass such an obvious fortune. “You see that new highway over there?”
    “Well, no.” replies the Asian.
    “Exactly, 100% for me!”

    Corruption is the biggest reason for Africa’s economic mess and therefore one of the most deadly forces for evil in the world.

  • Paul from Florida

    A couple of cops in the middle of nowhere? Seems to me some sniping from the bush should raise the transaction costs, maybe keep the guys in the station unless they’re called out. You know, criminals in the woods and all that. Know what I mean, eh?

  • tranio

    when I was in Zambia last year I drove through several police checks. When they saw I was a white man with a white wife in a car we were just waved through. They are looking for illegal immigrants, stolen goods, in Zambia this would be copper cathodes. No problems for me, I like to see police in action.