Coast residents are faced with a transport nightmare following increased Public Service Vehicle (PSV) fares since the crackdown began on vehicles flouting traffic rules.
Some of the operators have tripled fares, leaving passengers suffering. In Mombasa, despite matatu operators displaying the correct fares, they have opted to overcharge commuters.
From Mombasa CBD to Mikindani, for instance, the displayed fare is Sh70 but passengers pay Sh100.
“What they are doing is unfair, complying with the Michuki Rules is doing the right thing. They think they are doing us a favour,” said a Changamwe resident, Mr Paul Kambi.
This comes even Coast regional coordinator Bernard Leparmarai said that police officers have been deployed to routes where cases of overcharging have been reported.
“That is unlawful and we are going to deal with those who have decided to make and follow their own law,” said Mr Leparmarai.
In Kwale County, the few matatus on the road have raised fares by between 50 and 300 per cent. Commuters accuse the matatu operators of taking advantage of the crisis. Mr Ali Rashid, a commuter in Ukunda, said it was difficult to get to Mombasa as there were few matatus and fares had been increased.
Matatus plying the Likoni-Ukunda route are now charging between Sh150 and Sh200, up from Sh70. Passengers who used to pay Sh150 from Likoni to Lunga Lunga are now forced to part with up to Sh500.
"It is chaotic to get a matatu and sometimes we are forced to travel in private cars to reach our destinations," he said.
Matatu Owners Association Coast co-ordinator Salim Mbarak said those overcharging the fares were doing it illegally.
At the same time, Mr Mbarak accused traffic police officers of arresting motorists over what he termed “petty issues”.
Meanwhile, fares from Malindi to Kilifi and Malindi to Mombasa have begun to stabilise at their original price of Sh200 and Sh400 respectively.
Mr Hassan Bakari, a matatu driver plying the Malindi-Kilifi route, said this was due to the increased number of matatus complying with the law.
Early this month, travellers had a hard time after matatu operators raised the fare from Malindi to Mombasa from Sh400 to Sh1,500.
In Taita-Taveta County, normalcy has returned as most of the PSVs have complied with traffic regulations. Some commuters told the Nation that they were satisfied with the government’s crackdown, saying it was meant to save lives especially during this festive season.
Reports by Mohamed Ahmed, Fadhili Fredrick, Charles Lwanga and Lucy Mkanyika