Eighty-one people have been arrested in connection with using and producing forged driver’s licence over the past six months, Police have said.
Of those, 28 have been arrested since the turn of the year, including seven last week.
Emmanuel Kabanda, the Police Traffic and Road Safety department spokesperson, said the suspects were arrested from various parts of the country in an operation conducted following a tip-off from the “customers.”
Ferdinand Sebahinzi, who voluntarily surrendered a fake drivers licence he had acquired a month ago, was discovered after trying to upgrade it to another category.
Sebahinzi, a taxi-moto operator in Kigali, had made a downpayment of Rwf50,000 of the Rwf180,000 he needed for the fake licence.
Speaking from custody at Muhima Police Station, he said he was advised to voluntarily surrender his counterfeit licence to avoid being sent to jail.
Sebahinzi claimed that he had acquired the permit from a one Ascent Habimana, 24, who is also currently being held at Muhima Police Station.
“I had to report to Police and give details of the people that gave me the fake licence, just to be on the safe side,” said Sebahinzi.
Habimana is a stationer in downtown Kigali.
“Some people want easy means of getting driver’s licence, that is why they are duped by such unscrupulous individuals who claim to work with Traffic Police. The two parties secretly agree on terms and costs,” Kabanda said.
He said, however, that some people unknowingly fall victim to con men and they report back to Police.
“That’s how we learnt of some of these cases,” Kabanda said. “Using fake driver’s licence poses danger because most of the culprits have not passed road tests. For that matter, we are going to step up the hunt for offenders.”
Article 609 of the Penal Code indicates that any person who forges or alters documents by forged signature or fingerprint, falsifying documents or signatures or impersonation, forging agreements, its provisions, obligations, discharged obligations shall be liable to a term of imprisonment ranging from five to seven years and a fine of Rwf300,000 to Rwf3 million.
Any person who knowingly uses a counterfeit document shall be liable to the same penalty as the person counterfeiting a document, according to the Penal code.
Kabanda acknowledged that cases of using illegal driver’s licence have lately been on the rise, with some suspects successfully prosecuted.
“We want the public to be informed that whoever involve themselves in forgery of such documents would be caught up with the law,” Kabanda said.
There have been claims that the driving tests by Traffic Police are quite difficult, which compels people to find “easy means” of accessing driver’s licence.
However, Kabanda dismissed this claim.
“Our tests are fair and we try as much as possible to ensure that whoever gets the driver’s licence deserves it; in terms of readiness to drive and having knowledge of traffic rules,” he said.
“We have continuously made driving test a bit relaxed.”
Kabanda said Police plan to set up examination centres across the country, where people would sit for provisional driving permit tests instead of converging in Kigali alone.
He added that plans are also underway to introduce online registration for permit seekers.
These new measures are meant to ease accessibility to the licence; however, Police will remain vigilant not to give permits to those who don’t pass the requisite driving tests, he warned.