My small stand

My small stand

By Bob D’jalo:

Most of us who drive have been guilty of this little but serious crime called bribing. If you have not bribed a traffic cop before then you are a very lucky person but you probably know someone who has and you have not done a thing about it.

Imagine you were rushing to the airport to catch a flight or taking someone to catch a flight and they were running late and you overtook in a zone you were not supposed to. Then a cop stopped you and started to read you a list of crimes, wouldn't you find it easier to bribe him and get it out of the way? I bet you would because that is what I would do.

I have been a very bad and guilty person as far as bribing cops in the past has been and I am not proud of that. Here is something that may surprise you all, I learned how to drive when I was a first year student at Makerere and for 3 years I drove without a driving permit. Here is how it happened. Because I knew I did not have a driving permit, I was very careful. I followed all the traffic laws, I did not do anything to draw police attention to myself and for all that time I was not stopped even once by a cop. Now that was a record. Well, one day I decided that was not good, I was going to get a driving permit so I started the process and went to the test (I actually did the test and passed) and waited for my permit. Now, because I had done the test and my provisional had been stamped and I had a receipt to show I had applied for a permit, I became careless and made my very first mistake the next day. I was stopped by a traffic cop on Bombo road while heading to Makerere for a lecture.

The cop asked for my permit and I showed him my provisional and started to explain myself. He was a nice cop. When I told him my story and how I was rushing for a lecture, he gave me a lecture of his own, gave me a stern warning and told me to park the car until I got my real permit (I did not park the car though) and he let me go.

Now first forward, after I got my permit I never really got into trouble except when I forgot to pay my 3rd party and for each time that happened, it was easier to just pay the cop,  go and pay the 3rd party and everything would be fine.

A couple of years later, I lost my permit and then while it was lost, it also expired. That did not stop me from driving and each time I was stopped and asked for my permit, I did the easiest thing I could do. One day I picked my little sister from school and was stopped for overtaking in a zone I was not supposed to. I did not want my sister to see me pay off the cop but I did and I felt rotten. I had a chat with a good friend (Ben Mwine) and we decided we shall not bribe cops anymore. It was a hard decision to make but we made it anyway. I do not know how he is fairing with it but as for me, each time I commit a traffic offence the first thing to do is admit my wrong, then I ask for mercy and promise to reform and if the cop not as merciful as I wish, I ask for the fine and I go pay the fine. Since I made that decision, I have been stopped 4 times and each time I have paid a traffic fine.

Now, what has that done for me? For once, I am a careful driver once again; because I am not going to bribe a cop and I do not want to lose my money to traffic offence fines, I have decided to be a more careful and defensive driver and am so much better on the road.

So here is my word to you. If you want to stop this vice of corruption that is eating away at our nation, start with yourself. Determine not to get in a situation that will cause you to break the law to get out of that situation and correct your own wrongs, maybe someone else will learn from you and do the same and if we all stopped bribing cops, maybe they would stop trying to ask for the bribes and instead educate the wrong doers (hopefully).

Founder and Editor in Chief of the Readers Cafe Africa

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