Central matatus to sue State over costly speed governors

Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Association members during their meeting in Thika town. They threatened to sue the State over costs associated with the new speed governors. [Photo: Kamau Njoroge]

Mt Kenya Matatu owners have threatened to move to court to challenge the government’s move to implement the new speed limit gadgets that entered the market starting on Tuesday. The Mount Kenya Matatu Owners Association said operators in the industry are staring at Sh6.8 billion loss if the government does not call off the implementation of the new generation speed governors.

 Owners, who operate over 10,000 public service vehicles in the region, accused the government through the Ministry of Transport and the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) of failing to consult the sector players while implementing the new policy.

They have already written a Memoranda to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his Interior and Coordination of National Government counterpart Dr Fred Matiang’i decrying that neither the Transport Ministry nor the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) have shown cause as to how or why the current governors have failed.

In the Memo signed by the Association’s Chairman Michael Kariuki, the operators argue that the entire exercise is not about road safety but it’s a cash cow by a few individuals who are out to milk billions from the sector.

They said they will move to court to get orders barring the state from implementing the new rule noting that their attempts to dialogue with the state over the matter has flopped.

 Kariuki, who led their meeting in Thika town on Wednesday said that the same people (speed governors suppliers), who endorsed, approved and imported the current ‘tamper-proof’ speed governors in 2014 are the same people agitating for their replacement.

“They brought us defective or substandard speed governors, which were approved by both NTSA and Kenya Bureau of Standards. Now they are forcing us to replace them with new ones that they have still brought to us. this is no longer about road safety but it’s a business run by cartels who want to mint billions from the PSVs, Goods Carrying Vehicles (GCVs) and Tourist Service Vehicles,” Kariuki said.

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“We are law-abiding citizens and we are not against any law. What we are against is exploitation by some cartels of powerful people who control the speed governors business. We are not ready to be fleeced again,” Kariuki added.

The Chairman noted that the new generation speed governor under a new standard Sh2295 2018 is expected to have the ability to transmit speed and vehicle position coordinates every five seconds to two sites including the NTSA server and the suppliers’ server.

 Kariuki indicated that most of the new governors are foreign-owned and controlled and their servers sit in foreign countries. “Our investigations, so far, have revealed that Governor Suppliers will track all PSVs, GCVs and TSVs every minute and report any violations to the traffic police, NTSA or NaMATA.

 However, we have no reason to believe that our Security agencies have fully analyzed this new system to ensure that the data generated cannot be accessed by an illegal group to sabotage or organize attacks on our public transport system,” reads part of the memo.

He said that the Matatu owners fear the data might be misused to perpetrate a crime or extort money from the operators.

“The data can be accessed by illegal or terrorist groups as well as rogue speed governor suppliers for illegal purposes. Again, rogue enforcement officers can use the data to extort money from operators and our business rivals seeking confidential private business information can get it,” the Chairman said.

The State must compensate the owners who have working governors saying that they have lost a lot of money in fitting and maintaining them.

 “We have been grappling with serious issues in the PSV sector including corruption, high cost of NTSA compliance, county levies, and licenses, a high taxation regime, high insurance premiums, high congestion costs, unfair competition and extortion by illegal gangs. Now the government is on our neck again. We are law-abiding citizens and we’ll follow it to the latter,” the Chairman said.

The Association’s Vice Chairman John Kiarie said the State must stop further exploitation of players in the Matatu industry and instead purchase the new speed governors for the operators.

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Mt Kenya Matatu ownersNTSADr Fred Matiang’i