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Matatu workers want more time for laws

BUSIA
By | February 18th 2011

By PATRICK MURIUNGI

Transport operators with14-seater matatus are pleading with the Government to give them a 10-year grace period to comply with the phasing-out programme. They argue that the three-year period they were required to comply with the Bus Rapid Transit Programme was insufficient.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said only few PSV operators will have complied with the directive, predicting a potential transport crisis if the decision is not reversed.

"The 14-seater matatus have an economical lifespan of three years. This directive should apply in Nairobi where it started, and give others a chance to adhere. Transport Minister Amos Kimunya is creating a possible transport crisis in the country and something must be done," said Kimutai.

Speaking to matatu owners from the larger Meru in Meru town, the chairman challenged matatu owners countrywide, including the counties of Meru and Tharaka/Nithi, to form a committee each to lobby the Government to agree on MoA’s proposed 10-year period instead of three.

"We will be very practical in handling the minister, because I think he was over ambitious. Passengers countrywide will be stranded for lack of transport and Kimunya will have no alternative but to give in to our demand. Every county should form a committee to spearhead the move," said Mr Kimutai.

He advised all the matatu operators in Meru region to ensure they register with Saccos, in order to do profitable business, and comply.

"Only registered groups will be recognised. You should take charge of your business and stop involving brokers, who overcharge passengers in order to get a commission."

Meru community has many matatus, but are unable to do viable projects due to mismanagement and disunity," said Kimutai.

On the issue of fares, Kimutai said the market has been liberalised and urged the three registered matatu Saccos currently operating in the larger Meru to determine fare to various destinations on their own.

He also warned them against the culture of bribing the police by ensuring they adhered to the traffic rules and regulations.

"Avoid the culture of bribing the police anytime you suspect you are in the wrong. You must adhere to the traffic rules and regulations, instead of running away or giving a bribe. Public private partnership must be encouraged by all the stakeholders by following the right channels when paying for any services," said the chairman.

Together with the matatu owners, Kimutai hailed the area Traffic Base Commander, Hamisi Saidi, for his efforts in ensuring traffic rules are adhered to and promised to support him.

They appealed to the Government to ensure all accident victims, especially the poor, are compensated and urged police to get rid of all "quack" Saccos in the area.

After the deliberations, Kimutai advised the matatu businessmen to form a dispute and reconciliatory committee to address cases of indiscipline.

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