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Sudan’s traffic police corrupt with on-the-spot fines

May 16 - 2016 KHARTOUM
A Sudanese traffic police officer negotiates with a car driver (
A Sudanese traffic police officer negotiates with a car driver (

On-the-spot traffic violation fines in Sudanese traffic law are designed act as waivers to avoid court cases. Traffic police, however, have used the regulations to generate more financial revenue for their department.

In an investigative series on petty corruption in Sudan, the activist Sudan Democracy First Group (SDFG) reported that the traffic police are more concerned with collecting fines, whether for their own personal benefit or their department. The “most serious danger” these corrupt practices have caused, is the risks that drivers, passengers, and properties find themselves exposed to on a daily basis, the group writes.

The on-the-spot traffic violation fine allows the violator to pay a certain amount of money to avoid appearing before the traffic court. They are granted by traffic police to violators that did not cause death or injury, or damage to property.

The offer is not binding for the violator, who has the right to request a day in court. Three types of on-the-spot fines, ranging from first-degree (fine of SDG100, $16.30) to third-degree violations (fine of SDG50, $8), were adopted in 2010. Their intention was to avoid taking these traffic violations to court and hence reduce the time burden on the court and the violators.

After the adoption of an internal regulation that allocates 10 per cent of the revenue generated by traffic police officers as incentives, traffic police have been known to undermine these objectives and instead use these regulations to generate more financial revenue for the traffic police department and the government in general. They scaled up the number of check points on all major and secondary roads.

An officer complained about the low salaries traffic police officers receive, despite their dangerous and hard work

The corruption also works the other way around: traffic police request and negotiate for violators to pay them an amount of money less than the scheduled on-the-spot fine, in exchange for letting them get away with violations. With the receipt of the fine, violators are protected from further questioning on the same offense for 24 hours. Significant aspects of traffic laws, intended to guarantee the safety of drivers, passengers, pedestrians and properties, are thereby obscured.

SDFG gives three examples of minibus drivers who were involved in this type of corruption by negotiating with traffic police officers about the height of their on-the-spot fines. A retired traffic police officer told SDFG that when he was on duty, he negotiated with violators for payment that was less than the on-the-spot fine. At the end, high ranking officers receive a higher share, he said.

The retired officer blamed these corrupt practices on the low salaries that police officers receive despite the dangerous and hard work they are doing.

According to SDFG, this illustrates “how low salaries of the traffic police, combined with a lack of strong discipline and monitoring mechanisms, have paved the way for the existence of such corrupt practices. […] The danger that the drivers, passengers, pedestrians and properties are exposed to due to these corrupt practices is the most serious of all. Allowing drivers to continue driving poorly and/or with defective vehicles, after paying the on-the-spot fines, puts the lives of many people in danger.”

“The government should introduce an electronic system for the collection of the on-the-spot fines at each check point to reduce the possibility of collecting fines for personal benefit. It is also important to delink incentives that traffic police officers receive from revenue collected through the on-the-spot fines.”

Read the full report, dated 16 April, here

Sudan Transparency Initiative

The SDFG was formed as an umbrella group of leading Sudanese independent and democratic civil society and media actors to serve as a think tank. It launched its Sudan Transparency Initiative in March 2015 with the series Petty Corruption Stories from Sudan.

Earlier reports:

‘Scarcity of cooking gas leads to corruption’: Sudan Democracy First (14 January 2016)

Corruption at Sudan football matches (15 September 2015)

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