BY ALBERT NYAKUNDI
There is tension at Pangani traffic base after matatu drivers who ply the Thika supper-highway and Kiambu road accused the subcounty traffic boss Milka Wairimu of extortion.
Several junior officers at Pangani police station who requested anonymity for fear of victimization also accused Wairimu of forcing them to engage in corruption and exposing them to Covid-19.
She allegedly gives a daily bribe collection target of Sh 7000 to her junior officers which has seen them fall out with matatu drivers.
The officers who spoke to Hot News under condition of anonymity for fear of intimidation said every officer must impound two ‘defective’ vehicles in the morning and ensure each driver parts with Sh 2000.
In the afternoon every officer is required to impound one more matatu where the driver is required to part with Ksh 3000.
This makes Ksh 7000 daily.
The officers said their boss forces them into the station’s land cruiser to go for endless operations to impound ‘defective’ matatus and then demand bribes at the expense of their health.
They said they get overcrowded in the police pick-up contrary to directives by the health ministry that requires social distancing.
Hot News spotted the Pangani police pick-up on Thika supper highway during an operation with some officers hanging dangerously on the pick-up.
After the vehicles are taken to the police station the bribe is collected by a police officer Evans Ondieki,a confidant of Wairimu.
He then hands over the daily collection to Brian who “banks” the daily collection on behalf of the traffic boss.
A driver told Hot News that Wairimu has ’employed’ a civilian only identified as Brian who is attached to her office to collect and bank the bribes collected from matatus on her behalf.
A spot check by Hot News confirmed Brian works from Wairimu’s office.
An incognito Hot News reporter sought “help” from Brian to release an “impounded matatu” on Tuesday evening through a phone call.
He was willing to help but had left the office.
“I am already out. Even madam has left to manage traffic on Thika road near the Survey of Kenya. Talk to Ondieki.” Brian told the reporter.
Drivers that part with the bribe are given stamped “release slips” so that they can be allowed out by the officers manning the station’s entrance.
Contacted on Tuesday evening on phone, Wairimu said Brian is an “errands boy” at the police station.
“What is the issue? Who are you?” She asked on phone.
She was comfortable when this writer introduced herself as an official of a certain matatu sacco and wanted assistance.
She relaxed and easily engaged the journalist. “Brian ni nani?(Who is Brian) Ooh yule kijana yetu wa mikono,(Ooh,our errands boy?)just see Agesa, he will help you.” She said.
On Wednesday Wairimu said disgruntled junior officers are tarnishing her name.
“Trust you are well, and I thank you for bringing up this matter for my reaction. Unfortunately, I can comfortably say that the whole of the story and the issues pointed out are frivolous and I can guess they are probably being used by disgruntled officers.” She said.
Hot News independently confirmed that Wairimu was on Thika Superhighway on Tuesday evening manning traffic “from inside her private car” that she had parked at a parking near the Survey of Kenya.
Officers at the station accused Wairimu of collecting bribes amounting to hundreds of thousands per week from matatu saccos whose vehicles do not stick to their official routes.
“Saccos like Likana,Lina and Thomat illegally use Kiambu road.
Likana and Lina are supposed to use Limuru road while Thomat should use Thika supper-highway.
This they said creates unnecessary traffic on Kiambu road.” Said an officer.
The officer said three other saccos whose vehicles ply along the Thika supper-highway are subjected to a weekly protection fee of KSH 100 000 per Sacco.
Traffic officers have accused Wairimu of high handedness and intimidation.
They claim she threatens them of unspecified “disciplinary actions”.
Those critical to her mode of operation have been transferred to police posts and replaced with regular police officers.
“She threatens us that her request for transfers of officers who do not toe the line is just a phone call away.” Said an officer.
The officers said Pangani traffic base has more than seventy officers instead of the required maximum of fifty.
Wairimu is said to be untouchable even by her immediate bosses and she allegedly enjoys protection from a top officer at Vigilance House.
Officers said she vacated her office next to the Sub-county Police Commander and has permanently been operating from the office of her deputy to avoid possible scrutiny and confuse investigators.
She is said to have served in traffic department since joining police service.
Pangani Sub-county Police Commander Alice Kemeli was not available for comment.
She sent an automated message promising to call back when Hot News sought her comments, but she did not.
Nairobi traffic boss Joshua Omukata said he has not received any complaints from matatu operators regarding the accusations levelled against Wairimu.
“Thank you for the inquiry. I am not aware and none of the saccos have ever complained to me against the officer.” Omukata said.