Drivers of passenger vehicles on a trunk road seem to have forgotten how to undergo a checkout at transportation checkpoints. Instead of papers, they rush to officers with 20 som in their hands. Some smart officers sometimes stop heavy trucks and manage to get some coal. Investigative journalists of KTRK have found out that these payments are illegal and not intended for the budget.
Author: Baktiyar Tukeev, a KTRK journalistEditor: Timur Toktonaliev The investigation was produced as part of joint cooperation between the public TV and radio broadcasting corporation KTRK and IWPR’s Bureau for Investigative Journalism. Every day dozens of passenger buses and minibuses pass transportation checkpoints located on the roads of Chui oblast toward Issyk Kul and Kara Balta. These buses must be checked for compliance with national technical standards regarding transportation of passengers. According to regulations, checkpoint officers must check documents that certify:
- good technical condition of a vehicle;
- license for commercial transportation of people;
- approvals for financial services;
- permitted number of passengers per a specific vehicle;
- medical certificates that certify the driver’s ability to perform such a responsible transportation of passengers.
However, drivers that travel regularly to/from Issyk Kul oblast towns and villages told KTRK that transportation officers never perform checks; it’s enough to give them 20 som to avoid any inspection of documents.“They will just stop you at a checkpoint and ask for 20 som,” one of drivers travelling to/from Issyk Kul said on the condition of anonymity. “If they ask 20 som, guess how much it will be from 100 minibuses. It will be 2000 som. About 100 minibuses depart from Karakol every day. It’s only from Karakol!” In three-hour covert surveillance over officers working at Kubaky checkpoint at the entry to Issyk Kul oblast, journalists saw no drivers who would carry a A4 file when entering a watch post. In average, one officer managed to “check” a driver without a file in 8-20 seconds. Once, an officer managed to check three minibuses for 47 seconds. And he didn’t even go out of the watch post. When journalists approached the officer and shared what they saw, the officer met all suspicions with a flat denial and assured that he had done a proper check. Then, for the experiment, the team asked the officer to stop any minibus and show the inspection process. However, a driver of the first vehicle approached the officer without any documents, until the latter asked him to go back with documents. Journalist: Why did you go to the officer without your file? Driver: Here are the documents. Journalist: But you got back for them. Driver: So what? I wanted to shake hands first. Journalist: So do you step out first, shake hands, and then get back for your documents? Driver: I showed my documents. When we asked why drivers approached the officer without any documents, the officer said they had them in their pocket. However, the list of required documents consists of 10 sheets, and drivers often keep them in an A4 file, so it can hardly fit into a driver’s pocket… Although transportation officers are not authorised to stop heavy trucks, journalists shot how an officer, after a short talk with a driver, poured some coal for himself. Later, the officer explained that he asked for some coal to warm up the watch post due to no electricity. Also, despite the fact that all posts should operate 24/7, the shooting team filmed that on February 3 at 8.00 pm the watch post was closed and no officers were around. Later, the officer explained that with the lack of electricity and respective conditions. In the general interview, Nurbek Kapetov, head of transportation inspection department at the State Agency for Motor and Water Transport at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications of the Kyrgyz Republic, who was responsible for the operation of the said posts, tried to reassure us that officers didn’t charge anything and performed all inspections properly. “There is no charge. Our officers work there, check documents, and let go. Sometimes drivers do not have relevant documents, and our officers take necessary measures. If they violate the laws, we make a report and take measures according to the administrative code”, Kapetov said. “I guess there are no extortions…No extortions,” head of transportation inspection department said. For a full version of the investigation in Kyrgyz please see below.