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Matatu operators give 21-day strike notice over 14seaters

BUSINESS
By | February 18th 2012

By KARANJA NJOROGE

Matatu operators have threatened to withdraw their services if the Government in 21 days does not rescind the directive to phase out 14 seater matatus.

The operators vowed to paralyse transport operations countrywide if new the matatus are not registered and licensed.

Organisations in the sector buried their differences during a meeting in Nakuru where they resolved to speak in one voice and exert pressure on the Government to withdraw the directive.

The meeting which brought together officials of the Matatu Owners Association (MOA), Matatu Welfare Association (MWA), Mount Kenya Matatu owners and the Kenya Drivers and Conductors Welfare Association sought to seek a common purpose on the existence of the 14-seater matatus.

They said at the end of the 21-day ultimatum they would withdraw their services and will not resume their operations until their demands are met.

The operators termed the decision to phase out the matatus as ill thought out and unnecessary saying congestion in major towns was caused by an influx of personal vehicles in the country.

"The Government should know that the 14 seater matatus are here to stay and we cannot allow a sector that employs more than 1.5 million people to be killed," MWA Chairman Dickson Mbugua said.

He said to address the crisis in the transport sector, the Government should go back to the drawing board instead of using matatus as a scapegoat.

Addressing the meeting MOA Chairman Simon Kimutai said there was a misconception that the industry is lucrative while most of the operators were struggling to stay afloat.

"The perception out there is that matatu owners have a lot of money but that is not the case. We are not the millionaires we are perceived to be," Kimutai added.

Also at the meeting were Nakuru town MP Lee Kinyanjui, Naivasha MP John Mututho and former Naivasha MP Jayne Kihara.

Kinyanjui, who is also the assistant Minister for Roads, advised the operators to write a petition to President Kibaki over the issue. He said the directive was a Cabinet decision and only the President can rescind it.

He challenged the Government to address massive corruption and other ineffiencies in the sector that have contributed to the rot in the key industry.

"We should create a conducive environment for players in the sector which is very critical in building the nation. It is a well known fact that corruption thrives in the sector and needs to be eradicated," he added.

The leaders promised to support the operators and ensure that the 14 seater matatus are not phased out.

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