Hundreds of commuters plying the Kombani-Kwale road in Kwale County were on Wednesday morning stranded after matatus stayed away protesting against the infiltration of their work by private cars which are carrying passengers.
Kwale Matatu Owners Association Chairman Joseph Mutunga said there have been several unauthorised private cars carrying passengers, thus affecting their business.
He said police officers are to blame for the infiltration by the private cars allowed to ferry passengers, saying the move has been affecting the transport sector.
"Our major concern is the rising number of private cars ferrying passengers. We want a crackdown on the unlicensed cars," he said.
Boda boda riders took advantage of the situation and hiked fares, charging passengers Sh300 to Kwale town from Kombani.
Mr Ali Athuman said he made several trips and earned "a lot of money" during the morning hours.
"Matatu passengers are charged Sh100 to Kwale but we had to take advantage for those who were going to work and charge them more," he said.
Ms Rukia Abdalla was still stranded at the Kombani stage after failing to raise the required money to take a ride to Kwale.
"I have been here for several hours thinking the situation will come back to normal as I don't have Sh300 to go to Kwale and come back in the evening," she said.
Several hours later the matatu drivers led by Mr Mutunga held talks with the county police commander and agreed to resume work on condition that the private cars will not be allowed to pick passengers.
"We have agreed to resume work on condition that the traffic department will once and for all crack down on unlicensed passenger vehicles," he said, adding that the police boss promised them that he is going to deal with private cars used as passenger vehicles.
Rashid Bakari, a matatu driver, said the private vehicles, especially Toyota Probox cars, are locking them out of business and interfering with public service transport and urged police officers to stop unauthorised cars from carrying passengers.
"We have been running at a loss for quite some time now despite having all the requirements to run the matatu business. We are asking the police to protect our jobs by arresting individuals using their private cars to carry passengers against the traffic rules and regulations," he said.
Following the protest, County Police Commander Mr Alexander Munyao has directed traffic police to mount road blocks along the major roads in the county to crack down on unauthorised private cars being used as PSVs.
"We will not allow private cars [to be] used as passenger vehicles which is against the traffic laws. From now on police officers will mount road blocks to crack down on the cars," he said.