For the past two months, the Road Security Police has been without a director. The consequences of the power vacuum are weighing on Burundi’s citizens. On Wednesday Alfred Innocent Museremu was appointed Commander.-By J.Berchmans Siboniyo
It is 2:55 PM at the Road Security Police station (PSR) in Bujumbura. A long queue of people is standing in front of desks and offices. Phones are ringing. People are calling nonstop to ask if the offices are open so that theycancome and request services.
According to the people there, the situation has been like this for two months. “We are told that the Road Security Commander was given a mission abroad”, say the people in the queue.
The absence of the Road Security Police director has clear consequences. Nickson Habonimana, the Chairman of the Observatory for Road Security: “The policemen were already harsh and brutal, breaking laws however they want, when under the power of the commander. How much worse is the situation in these days without him?” he wonders aloud. He indicates that honest people, who lose their driving license, choose to leave their cars at home these days.
“Dishonest ones turn to counterfeit papers. Innocent people fall victim, because someone in need of a driving license, who buys a fake one and drives without experience, can cause accidents. Corruption follows, because those who fear the high penalties pay off the policemen.” He wonders why the situation prevails when the government has many officers who can substitute the director or work as an interim commander. “There must be some power issues behind”, he says.
J.BoscoMinani, the Chairman of the association of the touts and Senior Advisor of the Drivers Association in Burundi shares Habonimana’sview. He states that many drivers are in trouble when they lose their driving license. “You follow all the procedures needed to have a copy of the lost driving license, but there is no one to put the last signature.”
Some sources who didn’t want to be named reveal that the delay is about choosing the substitute. “High officers of the police don’t agree on who should occupy the position. Each one proposes his own close friend. It is the power and prominence of authorities in the government which causes this delay.”
The government is aware of the situation. Léonidas Hatungimana, the Spokesman of the President of the Republic states that it is an administrative question which is to be handled as soon as possible. And indeed, moments before this paper went to press, Alfred Innocent Museremu was appointed.