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Another traffic cop in highway drama

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 10 – Police were on Wednesday forced to shoot in the air to rescue a traffic policeman after a matatu driver sped off with him for nearly 100 kilometres after he resisted arrest.

The officer had stopped the shuttle that operates between Nairobi and Nyeri on Thika Road and ordered the driver to proceed to Kasarani police station, but he chose to take off with the policeman on board, plus his passengers.

"The driver had been stopped for a traffic offence and he allowed the traffic officer to board the matatu.  Instead of driving to the station, he sped off," a senior police officer told Capital News.

He said the officer communicated with his seniors and several roadblocks were mounted on the highway leading to Thika and Nyeri.

At one of the roadblocks in Makuyu, the officer said, the driver slowed down but sped off again before officers caught up with him at the Makutano junction where a team from the Central Provincial Police headquarters shot several times in the air forcing him to stop.

The officer was then rescued and the matatu driver swiftly arrested and transferred to the Kasarani police station where he was being held awaiting to be arraigned in court to face charges of resisting arrest and failing to obey traffic regulations.

The incident comes barely a month after a truck driver engaged a traffic policeman in a fist fight on Thika road, in an incident that was captured on camera.

Soon after the Thika Road incident, Police headquarters announced plans to have all officers deployed on traffic duty armed to enable them discharge their duties effectively.

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The decision to arm all the traffic police officers was reached after high level consultations amongst senior police officers at Vigilance House, the police headquarters.

"This issue raises serious security and safety concerns for our officers who are deployed to enforce the law out there, the traffic police officers will now have to be armed whenever they are on duty," Police Spokesman Erick Kiraithe said at the time.

Mr Kiraithe said the directive requiring traffic police officers to carry firearms was not unique because police officers on duty are required to carry arms.

A spot check by Capital News however, revealed that traffic police officers are not armed apart from a few senior officers who carry pistols.

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