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Kenya: Matatus Withdrawn From Roads As Major Crackdown Starts

A transport crisis is looming Monday following a decision by Public Service Vehicle operators to withdraw their services.

The decision to withdraw the vehicles from roads was reached last evening following deliberations by representatives of PSV operators.

The move came after the government announced that the crackdown on vehicles without seat belts, speed governors or a bold yellow line will begin Monday.

Starting Monday morning, such vehicles will not be permitted on the road as the government enforces rules gazetted 15 years ago by the then Transport Minister John Michuki in an effort to tame the rogue matatu industry.

Kenyans who use PSVs will therefore be forced to look for alternative means of reaching their destinations.

CONTENTIOUS ISSUES

On Sunday, the PSV operators held a meeting and resolved to remove their vehicles from the road until they get clarity on a number of contentious issues.

“We have decided to call for a nationwide withdrawal of all matatus from the road until some of our concerns are agreed upon,” read a statement by the Federation of Public Transport Operators.

Members of the federation are Matatu Owners Association, Matatu Welfare Association, Matatu Transport Vehicle Association, Association of Bus Operators Kenya, Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Association and Association of Matatu Operators.

Some of the issues they are demanding clarity on include charging vehicle owners and sacco officials for traffic violations of drivers and conductors, painting all vehicles white, introduction of a continuous yellow line instead of a broken one on matatus, replacement of speed governors with new ones even for those that are serviceable, and uniforms for drivers and conductors.

WITHDRAW VEHICLES

On Saturday, the federation’s Chairman Edwin Mukabana said the move to withdraw their vehicles will enable them to align with the new transport guidelines issued by the government.

“We are withdrawing the vehicles so that we are not caught on the wrong side of the law,” said Mr Mukabana.

“Meanwhile, we are seeking dialogue with authorities with a view of getting clarification on the new guidelines, which we feel are unclear and discriminatory. We had written to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, but we are yet to receive an invitation,” said Mr Mukabana.

Efforts to get comments from Interior CS Fred Matiang’i were futile. On Saturday, the CS defied strike threats by a section of PSV operators and reiterated that a crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles will begin today.

FESTIVE SEASON

“We want to make sure that we will not lose lives on the road this year like we did last year during the festive season,” he said at a fundraiser in Nakuru.

He pledged to listen to the concerns of PSV operators regarding the crackdown but asked them to observe the rules first.

If implemented, the Michuki rules will also require drivers and conductors to wear blue and maroon uniforms, and to get cleared by police as an added security measure.

The National Transport Safety Authority has also announced new fines for traffic offenders in a bid to instil discipline in the sector.

SPEED GOVERNORS

Meanwhile, 6,200 PSV vehicles at the Coast region will not operate starting today due to lack of digital speed governors.

Matatu Owners Association National Vice Chairman Salim Ali Bates said 90 per cent of PSV’s at the Coast region have not complied with the traffic rules.

Mr Bates said passengers will have to scramble for the less than 2,000 PSV’s  that will be in operation or walk to work.

By Daily Nation

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