New rules to rein in matatus to take effect Monday

Most matatu owners are yet to comply with the new regulations and might have to pull out their vehicles as they fear they may be seized by the authority.

Sunday January 24 2016

One of Ongata Rongai's pimped matatu. One of the vehicles that plies the Nairobi-Rongai route has VIP suites and even a fish aquarium on the floor. FILE PHOTO

One of Ongata Rongai's pimped matatu. One of the vehicles that plies the Nairobi-Rongai route has VIP suites and even a fish aquarium on the floor. FILE PHOTO 

By JEREMIAH KIPLANG'AT
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Public transport is set for a major disruption across the country from Monday as the transport regulator begins a crackdown on matatu saccos that flout regulations governing the sector.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) Sunday said it would be looking for savings and credit cooperatives that have failed to adhere to the rules put in place in 2014 upon the enactment of a law establishing the agency.

NTSA Director-General Francis Meja Sunday said matatu owners must comply with the law if they want to continue being in the industry.

He said the crackdown will be conducted countrywide and target vehicles of non-compliant owners.

“The law is very clear on graffiti and how it should be applied on vehicles. We are not against graffiti that is non-offensive or that promotes good morals. What we are against is graffiti that promotes bad behaviour,” Mr Meja told the Nation yesterday.

He said the authority would not be lenient as it enforces the law, adding that it had given non-compliant matatu owners adequate time to comply with the rules.

“We gave them a notice before the crackdown. We did not want them to say we did not give them any warning. We want to make deliberate efforts to make sure the law is fully complied with,” said Mr Meja.

The three-year-old transport regulator said the operation will not be a one-day affair but will be a “continuous” activity aimed at bringing order to a sector that is often chaotic.

NTSA officials will be targeting matatus emblazoned with offensive graffiti in and outside them. They will also be looking for those without visible names of their saccos.

Owners who have interfered with their vehicles’ exhausts will also be on the agency’s radar, so will those playing loud music.

Most matatu owners are yet to comply with the new regulations and might have to pull out their vehicles as they fear they may be seized by the authority.

As of Sunday, several matatus in Nairobi were still playing loud music and covered with graffiti.

The Matatu Operators Association has criticised the new regulations, saying graffiti had not been entirely prohibited after President Uhuru Kenyatta said the art should be allowed.

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