- Published on Sunday, 05 August 2012 03:16
- Written by ANTHONY TAMBWE
- Hits: 1457
THE police force has clarified on the role of the armed police riders seen in the streets of Dar es Salaam and beyond known as Crisis Response Team (CRT), saying that their deployment was meant to increase efficiency in curbing crime.
National Traffic Police Commander Mohammed Mpinga admitted in an interview with the ‘Sunday News’ to have received complaints from motorists regarding extortion and bribes by the riders and pledged to investigate the matter.
“Deployment of the Crime Response Team (CRT) is designed to increase efficiency in curbing crime. They use motorcycles to move smoothly amid the traffic jam in Dar es Salaam,” Mr Mpinga explained.
The police chief added that the riders also monitor movement of the traffic and check motorist compliance to ensure road safety regulations. Asked whether the Crime Response Team was also assigned with the duty to stop vehicles to inquire for vehicle documents, Mr Mpinga said that was not the essence of their deployment.
“We all know that the crime rate in our country is still high, and the aim of the CRT is to control crime in the city, especially in pursuing criminals not otherwise,” he said.
He added that with most roads congested with heavy traffic, the police had a difficult moment chasing criminals in their vehicles, but with the CRT, it becomes easy for them to manoeuvre around the traffic chasing criminals on their motorcycles.
He said his office was investigating corruption allegations facing the team, promising that the anomaly would be addressed shortly to the convenience of motorists and the general public.
Following corruption allegations facing some of the team members, members of the public have nicknamed the team ‘Voda Fasta’, or ‘Tigo’, which has nothing to do with any mobile phone company.
He said the team has actively been involved in apprehending criminals in all corners of the city, apart from involving themselves in rescue operations. “Confiscating illegal drugs and contrabands has been possible with the mobile police riders who have also played a crucial role in rescue operations in case of road or marine accidents.
Briefing reporters during official launching of the team in 2009, the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Suleiman Kova, said CRT would be dealing with crimes on the scene.
But the feelings of most Dar motorists are the same, with most of them accusing the ‘fearful’ looking men in uniform that resembled sojourners in the jungle of forcing them to give bribes for minor road offences.
Although a section of the motorists spoke well of the job well done by the team, majority launched serious complaints against harassment endured in the hands of the team as a mechanism to extort bribery.
Interviewed, Geoffrey Zadock, a resident of Tegeta on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam, accused the Crime Response Team of behaving the same. “Hardly a month goes by without bumping into these men in uniform, and in all cases, I had to part with some money, ranging between 5,000/- to 20,000/-, depending on their moods,” Mr Zadok complained.
With easy mobility to their advantage, the CRT are efficient in their quest, identifying their victims and pulling them over, and in most cases, they either escort you to a nearby police station or you have to part with cash.
“Every time I come across them, my heart beat rate increases, because I know when they pull me over they will either waste my time in trying to take me to a police station or compel me to part with my hard-earned money,” said Ms Salome Mlacky, another resident of Mbezi Beach in Kinondoni District, Dar es Salaam.
The CRT is in most cases heavily armed, which according to one female driver, is scary and intimidating. However, the Commissioner of Operations in the Police Force, Mr Paul Chagonja, has said that his office had not received any complaints against the CRT, saying that they have a special desk for complaints against the police force.
He said that those who complain are the kind of people unwilling to obey the country’s laws, saying that CRT, just like any other unit in the police force, has the mandate to respond to any law breaking act.
“The problem with most Tanzanians is that they don’t like to obey the law, and when action is taken against them they are the first to complain. If they have genuine complaints, they should come to the office instead of holding grudges against the police,” said Mr Chagonja.