Matatu operators say passengers are the biggest hindrance to success of Michuki Rules

Kisumu Central Base Commander Jane Mbevi inspects seat belts in one of the PSVs in Kisumu on November 12, 2018. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]
Matatu crew have blamed stubborn passengers failing to tie seat belts even after PSV owners complied with rules requiring installation of the same.

"For us, we do not have a problem. Passengers are the issue," said a driver of a 14-seater matatu that plies the Nairobi - Kikuyu route 105.

"Most passengers are stubborn. They cannot fasten seat belts unless you instruct them to or unless they see a police check point ahead. Even then, you find passengers unfastening the seat belts once the matatu has passed the checkpoint. It is frustrating, but we cannot force them to use seat belts," he said.

A matatu conductor for the same route reiterated the first man's sentiments, stating that such stubborn passengers often got the matatu crew in trouble, forcing them to pay bribes.

The subject of compliance to the Michuki rules has formed a hot topic for debate on Ma3Route, a text and web-based platform that facilitates sharing of transport and traffic information among more than 1 million followers.

Users have reported several incidents of PSVs flouting Michuki rules, especially by speeding. Many have also expressed frustration with safety belts.

According to a section of passengers who have shared their views on the platform, it is sometimes difficult to use safety belts because they are faulty, substandard or dirty and poorly maintained.

On October 25, last year, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) issued a tough traffic law enforcement notice, one that the public received with optimism and skepticism.

The notice, which announced strict enforcement of Michuki rules, came at a time Kenyans were increasingly fearful of their safety on roads, burdened by an alarming rise in fatal traffic accidents.

On October 10, two weeks before NTSA put out the notice, an overloaded 67-seater bus registered under Western Cross Sacco veered off the road and crashed in a valley at Fort Ternan, killing nearly 60 people, including eight children.

Only a few days before, a night bus heading from western Kenya to Nairobi rammed into a Canter trailer in Gilgil, killing 12 lives.

Reports by survivors later indicated that the bus was not only carrying excess passengers but also speeding.

Following the accidents, Kenyans staged immense pressure on government agencies, particularly NTSA and the Ministry of Transport, accusing them of negligence and complacency in ensuring road security.

According to Dickson Mbugua, chairman of the Matatu Welfare Association, success of the Michuki rules will only be possible if stakeholders, including passengers, adhere.

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