Matatu Owners Association chair decries crackdown on PSVs in Nairobi

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Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai
Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai

Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai has decried what he has termed as an ongoing crackdown by police officers that has led to strenuous PSV operations in Nairobi. On Monday, many commuters in Nairobi were stranded after matatu operators kept their vehicles from the roads or charged exorbitant fares, citing the ongoing traffic crackdown that started on Sunday. Stations that required fare as little as Kshs 30 were hiked to around Kshs 80, with some residents preferring to walk to town.

Kimutai said the traffic laws have been there all the time and haven’t been ignored, “A crackdown means the laws have been ignored,” he said. He added that there was an earlier notice made public that matatu operators should ensure their vehicles are in good condition, but since Friday last week, officers have stepped overboard, “Since Friday, vehicles have been taken to police stations yet the operators haven’t been told the reason why…I think that’s why matatus have been kept from the roads,” he said.

Kimutai said the Michuki rules which are reportedly being enforced once again, were suspended by the court and no government body appealed the decisions, “Michuki rules were suspended by the court, Judge Ogoti gave the ruling, but indeed there are NTSA and traffic laws that must be followed.”

However, traffic commandant Samuel Kimaru has outlined that the traffic officers are enforcing the rules to ensure the law is followed. He said everyone in the matatu business should be conversant with the Michuki rules, which include strict adherence to the use of seatbelts, “Some operators will tell you that the seatbelts are dirty, and have been stepped on. Whose responsibility is it to ensure the seatbelts are well maintained?” he posed, during an interview on Citizen TV. He said authorities expected drivers and conductors to comply with the rules but at the moment, they haven’t been able to, and the traffic department has stepped in to ensure they do.