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Iteere takes over with guns blazing

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 15 – Police officers countrywide have been ordered to crack the whip on errant matatu drivers and other private vehicle owners who flout traffic regulations, including the famous ‘Michuki rules’.

Newly appointed Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said on Tuesday that he was committed to end impunity amongst drivers, particularly those operating public service vehicles who have ignored the ‘Michuki rules’.

“There is no two ways about it; the rules must be observed, I have directed the traffic police to be tough on this one. We will not sit back and watch as they (matatus) flout existing laws,” Mr Iteere said after chairing a meeting of Provincial and District police commanders at the Kenya Police Pavilion in Nairobi.

Traffic Commandant Aggrey Adoli also attended the meeting. Other senior officers in attendance were Head of Police Operations Julius Ndegwa, Commandant of Kenya Police Training College Peter Kavila and Director of Criminal Investigations Karanja Gatiba.

“This should go to all members of the public. We will not spare anyone. You must obey the rules,” he said and added: “it is embarrassing to see public service vehicles and their drivers and conductors flout rules with impunity.”

“These include the so-called Michuki rules; we will implement them to the letter. That is a directive I have given and it takes effect immediately.”

The Commissioner further announced that he had given the traffic department autonomy in their operations.

He said unlike previously when traffic police officers in stations, divisions or provinces fell under Provincial Police chiefs, they will now operate under their respective traffic commanders “to ensure smooth running of their operations.”

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“Traffic commanders will be responsible for the work of the traffic department. The days where the traffic department was under the PPOs and OCPDs are gone,” he said.

Under immediate former police commissioner Maj Gen Mohammed Hussein Ali, traffic police were under the PPOs or OCPDs in respective provinces and divisions and thereby hampered their operations because they were not autonomous.

“Even in the new directive, I will expect the traffic police to also operate under existing laws. They have no excuse to abet corruption because anyone found will face the dire consequences. I am going to be tough on this one and others,” he said.

Organized gangs

At the same time, Mr Iteere has vowed to eliminate all the organized gangs in the country, particularly the Mungiki which has established strong networks and extortion rings in the country.

During the two-day meeting, Mr Iteere said he had instructed all police chiefs countrywide to embrace community policing and involve local leaders in fighting the criminal gangs.

“It is going to be a thing of the past. We can not have groups of people terrorizing innocent people for no reason,” he said.

“Tumeamua (we have decided), we will not allow them to continue what they have been doing. These criminal acts by such organizations must come to an end,” he said and cited Monday’s incident where a six-year-old boy who had been kidnapped was found murdered and his mutilated body found dumped outside her grandmother’s house in Nairobi’s Komarocks estate.

“We will be firm until we dismantle these gangs, including the cattle rustlers who have been killing people in the North Rift and parts of the country,” he said.

Asked about the Tuesday killings of 31 people who were shot dead during a cattle raid incident in Samburu district, the commissioner said.

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“That also must come to an end, we are going to do everything possible to ensure we dismantle them,” he said and described the rustlers as members of a “lost generation.”

“It is a group of people aged between 16 and 30 years, they don’t know anything else other than cattle rustling, they don’t have even formal education as a police department we are going to everything possible to fight them completely,” he said.

Mr Iteere said he had deployed a powerful security force to the region to quell the tension.


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