Transport was paralyzed along Kapenguria-Kitale road after matatu drivers plying the route barricaded the busy highway for more than 7 hours protesting high tax remittance by the County government.
More than 200 matatu operators used matatus to block the road as hundreds of passengers were kept stranded in Makutano and Kitale town with some opting to use motorbikes to reach their destinations.
The snarl-up that was witnessed at Murkwjit cess collection point also inconvenienced travellers on their way to Lodwar as they also waited for hours before they proceeded with their journey.
One of the drivers, Sande John, said the County government taxes them Ksh 2500 per vehicle in a month citing that the levy was too high and they couldn’t be able to raise the amount.
He said they wrote a letter to the minister in charge complaining of high charges but no one has responded to their grievances.
“We want the County government to tax us Kshs 70 per trip, we are against the Kshs 2500 per month because right now the route does not have enough customers, sometimes it’s even difficult to make three trips per day to and from Kitale,” he said.
They added that the County government has been reluctant to address their pleas and by staging a protest they hope the county government will heed their issues.
Abraham Olelempak, a tout, said for a matatu to operate, many documents are required before it can ply any route and the high charges leave them with empty pockets at the end of the day.
County Executive Committee member for Trade and industrialization Monges Lotodo was forced to address the matatu operators at Murkwijit citing that it was erroneous for them to block the national highway.
He said the former County government increased the levy from Ksh 1500 to 2500 without following the procedures or reaching an agreement with the matatu operators.
“We are dealing with a problem that was conceived by the former County government, they came up with the high taxation without even consulting the County assembly,” he said.
Monges said he had ordered the revenue collectors to charge the matatu Kshs 70 per trip before they reach an agreement with the matatu operators,” he said.
He said business was greatly affected for the better part of the day as he promised to hold subsequent meetings with all bodies concerned before tabling in the county assembly the new tax charges that will become a law.