Police in Eldoret, in conjunction with National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) officers, on Tuesday conducted a crackdown on public service vehicles (PSVs) which had increased fares as learners re-opened school.
During the crackdown on various transport saccos in Eldoret town, operators were forced to refund the excess amounts they had charged travellers.
The crackdown, which was led by Uasin Gishu County Police Commander Johnstone Ipara and North Rift NTSA Coordinator Mohammed Khamsin, came as a sigh of relief to passengers who were being charged exorbitantly.
From Eldoret to Nairobi, for instance, the fare schedules posted inside the vehicles indicated that passengers were being charged Sh1,500, up from the normal Sh800.
Passengers heading to Kitale from Eldoret were forced to pay Sh400 instead of Sh200, while those heading to Kakamega from Eldoret were paying Sh600, up from Sh350.
Shuttle operators who had overcharged passengers were forced to return the excess money in the presence of traffic police officers.
“This operation is aimed at protecting travellers from being exploited by matatu operators who are capitalising on the back-to-school rush to exploit passengers,” said Mr Ipara.
He cautioned matatu operators against being inhuman to passengers.
He, at the same time, appealed to passengers to report any form of exploitation to the police for assistance.
The county police boss told matatu operators to show their patriotism by not exploiting travellers.
“We know this is private business but we need each other. Let us be reasonable. When we increase fares, it should not be by 100 per cent,” he said.
Travellers who benefited from the crackdown praised police and NTSA for the move.
“I thank police for this move. I had been forced to pay Sh1,500 instead of the normal fare of Sh700. But I am happy because due to police intervention, I have been given back Sh500. This is fair,” said a passenger.
However, matatu owners criticised police and NTSA “for dictating to them how they should conduct their business”.
They said that they have been forced to increase fares to cater for the losses they are making as their vehicles are empty on their return journeys.
“It is not our wish to raise fares. Our vehicles are empty from Nairobi to Eldoret, hence subjecting us to a loss,” said Mr Paul Kanyari, a matatu owner affiliated to 2NK Sacco.