But are checkpoints really performing the functions they are meant for?
In fact how many checkpoints are up to standard? How many checkpoints have Reflector Tapes, Reflector Jackets, Battery Lamps, Torch lights, Police Stop signs? Almost all checkpoints lack all these basics and when they do have these things, their condition is nothing to write home about.
Some checkpoints do not even have the police stop sign which is to be used as identification for the police manning the point. Instead of the stop signs, one end of a rope (not a good looking rope) is tied to a stick and the other end is held by one of the officers. In areas where there are no street lights it is quite difficult to identify a police checkpoint because the officers do not have reflector jackets or tapes, or battery lamps. What you will see is a tiny light flashing on and off to signal you to stop. That tiny light on some occasions is not even a proper torch light, instead you’ll find one of those “PRSP” phones which has a flash light. Yes, that’s how bad it is.
Alright, let’s forget about the physical state of the checkpoints for a minute because one might argue that those are just formalities (we’ll come back to this). Let’s talk about the officers manning the post. But before I go further i need to say that some police officers really do what they are meant to do at checkpoints but I must also say only a handful of those kinds exist. The bad eggs are too many!
Here are some CODES OF CONDUCT/DISCIPLINE listed in the SOP for Management of checkpoints:
-All personnel on duty are to carry tags for identification.
-All personnel on duty should be smartly dressed in the appropriate uniforms.
-Personnel are expected to be disciplined and professional in the
execution of their assigned checkpoint duties.
-Drunkenness and smoking is prohibited while on duty.
-Soliciting and accepting bribes/advantage is strictly forbidden as it is an
offence under the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008.
-People should not be unnecessarily harassed, molested and intimidated.
First of all, I have never met a police officer especially OSD, smartly dressed carrying an identification card at a checkpoint. NEVER! But these checkpoints usually appear at night so let’s just say maybe I have not noticed it in the dark.
As for professionalism in the execution of their tasks or assignments, I don’t think the police themselves are aware of what the word means. I mean just the other day I was stopped at a checkpoint and one of the OSD officers asked me to give him a ride. I said no, not because it wasn’t a professional thing for him to do but because besides his uniform there was nothing he had to identify him and he was armed. How do I know he didn’t steal the uniform? And with the “trigger fever” affecting these OSDs I wasn’t going to risk getting shot for not stopping exactly where he wanted to get down. My car wasn’t checked at that checkpoint at all, probably because of my sex (but isn’t that some form of discrimination....hahaha). Some vehicles go through check-points overloaded, unchecked and ignored.
The other three codes of conduct/discipline listed above are certainly not adhered to. Drunkenness, smoking, soliciting bribes, harassment, intimidation....are all found at checkpoints. Nevertheless, like I had said before there are some good apples who really try to do what is right.
But honestly it is so easy for a gang of thieves to hijack a checkpoint of better still just steal police uniforms and pose as police officers. And the ordinary citizen will not know how to differentiate between a real police and a fake one. If we are used to seeing checkpoints with a single rope tied to a tree, and police officers in their uniforms, armed and smelling of alcohol without any id then how will we know when thieves pose as police officers? How will we tell the difference?
This is a real security issue! But if you ask what is being done to address things like this, you’ll get a lot of answers which in the end will sum up to one answer........NOTHING!