Crisis as matatu owners make good on threat to withdraw services

Monday November 12 2018

VALENTINE OBARA
By VALENTINE OBARA
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Many Kenyans across the country woke up on Monday to a transport crisis as many public service vehicle owners made good on their threat to keep off the roads to protest the government's enforcement of the 'Michuki rules.'

By 4.30am, the few vehicles available on Nairobi routes had doubled fares as hundreds of commuters chose to walk to their destinations amid the matatu shortage.

A Nation spot check on Jogoo-Outer Ring Road revealed that fares had shot up to Sh200 from Pipeline to the Central Business District (CBD) as commuters in Donholm parted with Sh100 more than the usual Sh30-Sh50 fares. 

There are fears the fares could go higher with time.

 matatu strike

Nyeri residents walk to work after public service vehicles kept off the roads to avoid the police, who are enforcing road safety rules. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“I’ve walked from Embakasi where the fare was Sh200. I’ve found that it’s Sh100 at Donholm and I’ll continue to walk until I get a place where they will charge at least Sh80 to town,” Ms Josephine Mueni said.

Other Kenyans took their complaints to Twitter, where it emerged that fares from Pangani to town, a distance of about five kilometres, had shot up from Sh20 to Sh80.

Stranded passengers at the Kencom bus stage in

Stranded passengers at the Kencom bus stage in Nairobi on November 12, 2018. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A similar situation was evident in Githurai 45, where commuters were charged Sh250 to the CBD and Sh200 from Roysambu. It was the same situation on Ngong Road, Rongai and Uthiru. 

In Buru Buru, there were hardly any matatus and commuters were scrambling to get in the one that was at the stage at 5:45am.

At the popular Kencom and nearby stage at Ambassadeur Hotel there were no buses. Two buses dropped people off at Kencom but didn't carry any passengers.

Boda boda operators in Nyeri have moved in to

Boda boda operators in Nyeri have moved in to fill the void left by the matatu strike. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The transport crisis is bound to have a ripple effect on other key economic activities.

Green grocers within the estates, commonly referred to ‘mama mboga’, who are among the early risers in Kenyan towns, were also affected because a majority of them rely on public transport to move their goods from the market.​

Changamwe OCPD Peter Omanwa inspects a matatu

Changamwe OCPD Peter Omanwa inspects a matatu in Mombasa on November 12, 2018. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

NYANZA REGION

In Kisii County, matatus opted out of the roads as operators dug in for a strike.

The few matatus at the Kisii bus park were largely those heading to Kisumu and Eldoret.

There were no vehicles plying the Kisii-Keroka and Kisii-Ogembo routes as police cracked down on those that have not complied with the Michuki rules.

In Marani, a driver said traffic officers followed him deep into the villages but they gave up the chase.

The driver said he will keep off the road until the owner complies with the road safety rules.

"I don't want to fight with the government, let the owner make the necessary adjustments," he said.

MT KENYA REGION

In Meru County, the hundreds of private vehicles — mainly Toyota Proboxes — that illegally operate as PSVs have kept off the roads.

“As Probox owners, we have not met the requirements because the time given was too short. We want to see how things turn out…we will have to keep off the business,” said Mr Morris Gitonga, the chairman of Maua Town Probox Operators.

Mr Gitonga said there are more than 500 non-public service vehicles operating from Meru plying to Githongo, Kithaku, Mikinduri and Gatimbi trading centres.

COAST

In Kwale, many matatu operators kept off the roads, leaving passengers stranded and the few vehicles that remained doubled their fares. Passengers parted with Sh200 from Ukunda to Likoni, a distance that normally costs Sh100.

But tuktuk operators stepped in to fill the void left by the matatus even though they also increased their fares.

Police officers erected road blocks on all major routes in the county.

In Mombasa, 28 PSVs were impounded in the ongoing operation to punish operators who have not complied with the law that requires installation of speed governors and safety belts, and for drivers and conductors to wear uniforms and badges, among other rules.

Reporting by Valentine Obara, Magati Obebo, David Muchui, Eunice Murathe.