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Commuters suffer as Many matatus yet to comply with new rules

Tuesday April 15 2014

One of the few matatus operating in Mombasa picking passengers at the GPO. Fares have gone up as many matatus are yet to comply with the new transport regulations. The few that have complied have now doubled fares for commuters. PHOTO/LABAN WALLOGA.

One of the few matatus operating in Mombasa picking passengers at the GPO. Fares have gone up as many matatus are yet to comply with the new transport regulations. The few that have complied have now doubled fares for commuters. PHOTO/LABAN WALLOGA. NATION

WACHIRA MWANGI
By WACHIRA MWANGI
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Mombasa County residents are likely to continue paying more for fare as only a fraction of matatus have complied with the new rules and regulation set by the Transport Ministry.

Only 600 out of at least 3, 500 matatus in the County have met the requirements set by the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport and Safety Authority.

Two weeks on, the crisis in the industry seems to deepen as commuters continue paying exorbitantly high fares to and from the central business district.

Mr George Gichengo an inspector at the Miritini Inspection Unit told Nation.co.ke that the low number of Matatus that have fully complied was as a result of laxity by the owners who thought the new rules would not be effected.

“Most of these operators did not see the seriousness of these regulations.

Their vehicles have to be mechanically fit and must be road worthy.

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Once a vehicle is verified to be roadworthy, we issue a compliance certificate before it is taken to the TLB section,” he said.

He noted that there were about 20 companies that were certified to supply the required speed governors.

On Monday, Nation.co.ke learnt that as from April 14, 2014, only vehicles fitted with the new speed governors from these companies will be inspected.

In a letter from the Director of Motor Vehicle Inspection, Gerald Kaguri Wangai, inspection officers were asked to ensure they have retrieved data from fitted speed governors on vehicles that have undergone road tests and that have achieved 80kph.

“The new circular requires that the data from the speed governor fitted.

It should contain the vehicle owner’s name, identification and phone numbers, vehicle registration and chassis numbers, make of vehicle, certificate number, governor type and its serial number, date of fitting, the agent fitting it, his name, phone and identification numbers, the location of station, email address and business registration,” said Mr Gichengo.

The letter also required that all vehicles should have the speed governors properly fitted and that the speedo clock on the vehicle must be functioning before they go through the inspection process.

TURNED AWAY

Many operators were turned away since most of them were not aware of the new speed recorder data requirement.

The operators however complained of a shortage of the speed governors. They also complained that the governors were very costly.

“These gadgets are so costly that meeting all these requirements calls for one to have at least Sh70, 000 before the matatu gets back on the road. It is really inconveniencing not just to us but also the commuters,” said a matatus owner.

Matatu operators are required to remove any additional decorations on the vehicles.

They must have the visible names of their saccos in all the four phases of the vehicle, a permanent driver and conductor among other requirements.

High Court Judge George Odunga on Monday stopped the implementation of tough matatu rules that were to take effect Tuesday.

Judge Odunga censured Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Mr Michael Kamau, over the reintroduction of the rules which were already declared illegal, while the case was in court saying this bordered on contempt.

He said that the State was fully aware that the issue was pending in court, but went ahead to revoke and reintroduce an earlier legal notice that had been challenged on the same premise.

NEW RULES

Under the new rules by the NTSA, all public service vehicles must belong to a sacco that has at least 30 vehicles.

Each sacco must give the safety authority a list of all its employees and every month, must submit a report showing how many of its vehicles were involved in accidents and what was done about them.

PSVs were also required to remove roof racks, which meant that passengers who travel upcountry with their luggage had to find an alternative method to transport their luggage.

Coast traffic boss Martin Kariuki last week said there was no short cut to the new traffic rules.

He maintained that the department would not allow any vehicle on the road without fully complying with the new rules despite Mombasa being among the areas worst hit by the public transport crisis.