Tribulations in the hands of City Council askaris
The Kara Weekly Newsletter put together collections of city residents comments on various blogs as regards the city council of Nairobi by-laws enforcement.
“It seems like these laws are invented whimsically as the chaps move along. It is interesting that you cannot easily get your hands on the by-laws of the City council. I was informed by a learned friend that when he went to ask for a copy of the by-laws, he was informed that these are not available anywhere on soft copy, not even their website (I've checked). Apparently, he was told these are only available on hard copy and you pay for each page that you need a copy of, which they make for you one page at a time. You cannot get a copy of the whole thing. So who exactly is supposed to know when they are breaking the by-laws or not?
“I may not be exactly the sharpest crayon in the box when it comes to legal matters, but I imagine that it would not be too much to ask if these by-laws were available for the public so that we may know what to do and what not to do. I guess that common sense is not too common after all. The absence of this may indicate that laws are being thought out without following the due process. When will the members of the public be given the chance to be voting for the city mayor? The buck must stop somewhere surely!!”
“In January, I was arrested by city council askaris for leaning on a street light at Tusker (Mfangano Street-Ronald Ngala Road junction). These askaris are not law enforcers. They are extortion gangs. The modus operandi of the askaris is a clear sign of Kenya’s failing state status.”
“These City Council askaris are becoming too much. Rather than focusing on crooks who steal side mirrors and lights from cars, they now target innocent citizens to make a quick buck. I wonder what process Nairobi residents can follow to stop this madness.
Maybe you’ve been caught on the wrong side of the City Council by-laws or haven’t yet. If you are one of those ones who haven’t, let me share my experience at the hands of city council askaris (police). I was unsuspectingly buying myself a stick of gum, when I was nabbed by the askaris.
It took me a few minutes to wrap my head around what was happening. I was quickly informed that it was a crime to purchase goods from a hawker, and after lying through my teeth in a bid to convince them to let me go, I was berated for being ignorant and immediately marched to a city council vehicle that was parked nearby.
The last time I checked the hawker who had sold me gum was right behind me, accompanied by another askari but to my surprise, I was the only one who got into the pick up! I guess City Council is synonymous to Kitu Kidogo (bribe) because everyone who gave them some cash was let go in the course of our journey around the town center, as we looked for other ‘unfortunate’ Kenyans.
After the final lap, we were taken to the City council Offices at city hall, where the magistrate briskly gave out sentences for such misdemeanors; I was shocked to be fined Sh2,000 for buying a stick of gum, while hawkers were getting away with a day’s work at the council offices, or a bribe of 500 bob.
So there it is… bribery in this case is cheaper than justice. Truth is with the new by-laws (cash cows) that have been put in place, there are bound to be many victims of ignorance. Needless to say, I was late for work but learned a very valuable lesson, CCN is always watching!
Herebelow is a list of the 10 petty offences that I witnessed being charged in the Nairobi City Court as I waited for my turn. Beware: The City’s deadliest sins
1. Buying from hawkers
2. Sitting on a flower pot in the CBD
3. Spitting on any footpath or blowing the nose aimlessly other than into a suitable cloth or tissue
4. Taking or alighting from a matatu from a non-designated area
5. Crossing the road while you are on the phone
6. Making any kind of noise on the streets
7. Playing any game, riding or driving or propelling on a foot path
9. Owner of a burning building should pay for fire fighting services whether the owner requested for attendance or not.
10. Loitering, importuning or attempting to procure a female/male for prostitution purposes.
11. Having you car with a ‘FOR SALE’ sign and haven’t paid the council is also punishable.
The City’s survival tips
1. The moment you get into the council courts and charged, please plead guilty because only then, will you be allowed to pay a fine of a maximum of Sh2000. If you deny the charges you may be arrested for two days with no fine.
2. Do not argue with the council askaris if you know that you are guilty as charged. You might just double your fine.
3. Bribes are unacceptable after/immediately the lorry has entered the city council’s compound.
4. M-PESA is not allowed to pay for a crime.
5. Someone else MUST pay your fine. You cannot pay the fine yourself after you have been charged. “