A date with the police at alcoblow roadblock
It was many a drunkard’s nightmare — vehicles parked by the roadside as the policemen got busy weeding out the ‘unroadworthy’ drivers — at one of the now infamous Alcoblow roadblocks.
It is 10.30pm and the first roadblock has been erected at City Cabanas on Mombasa Road. A few minutes there and the Traffic Commandant, Mr Samuel Kimaru, and his team decide to move to Sabaki, between Mlolongo and Athi River.
The first car to be pulled off is a Subaru Forester. The driver staggers out and Kimaru announces that he is the first candidate for the evening.
“I am not drunk. I have had alcohol but I am not drunk,” he pleads as he is led to the testing area — the police Land Cruiser’s bonnet.
He is first asked to stand on one leg to test his stability — he fails the test. He has to take the Alcoblow test.
A second officer hands him the nozzle, which he unwraps and fixes to the machine. He blows into the nozzle and his reading is 0.37. The legal limit is a reading of 0.35 and below.
He becomes the first suspect of the night. He hands over his driving licence and car keys before being led to the back of the police car. His female companion, now not sure what will happen, disembarks from the car.
“He is a police officer attached to Nairobi Area,” she pleads with the officers who will hear none of it.
All this time, the police are inspecting every car that drives by, leaning close to the driver’s door as they engage them. Any smell of alcohol and one is promptly asked to step out of the car and take the test.
Almost an hour into the testing, we notice a car speeding towards the roadblock. There is screeching of breaks as everyone, including the traffic officers, dives far off the road. The car smashes into the parked vehicles and then all is quiet.
We get back on the road and the latest suspect is still strapped on his seat — dazed. He is not injured, but a quick glance tells that he is too drunk to comprehend the situation. He is pulled out of the car and taken through the test.
His reading is eight times above the legal limit.
After the scene of the accident is cleared, we are back to business. It is now almost midnight. A white Toyota Premio that hasn’t been stopped pulls off and the driver steps out.
“I am here,” he declares to everyone’s amusement as he staggers towards the testing area. From the way he talks he is clearly drunk, and has brought himself to the slaughter. He is found to be at 3.12.
He is promptly handcuffed and asked to board the police car.
A woman driver refuses to lower her window. After a moment of negotiation, she obliges and is asked to step out of the car. She smiles, oblivious that she is about to face the ultimate test, which she fails.
She becomes the first female suspect.
“I have children in the house,” she pleads as the officers tell her to call someone to pick her car. She speaks on the phone and tries to hand it over to Mr Kimaru.
“Ongea na mkubwa (speak to the boss),” she says.
The commandant dismisses her saying he is the highest authority in traffic. Apparently she had called an Officer Commanding Police Division to help her regain her freedom.
In the Land Cruiser, there are now 10 suspects. An old man who wanted to drive off, but was stopped before he mowed down the officers, is singing in Kikamba.
The woman has not given up — she makes some calls while the driver who smashed into other cars is fast asleep.
The rest are either quiet or chatting to each other. From their conversation, I can deduce that most are coming from the city centre. Others are from Nairobi West while one said he was drinking at a club on North Airport Road.
One of them asks the officer guarding them what will become of them.
“We will take you to Muthaiga Police Station, where you will spend the night,” the officer guarding them answers.