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NTSA: Crackdown is indefinite until all comply

By Graham Kajilwa | Jan 25th 2016 | 2 min read

Commuters had a hard time yesterday navigating in Nairobi and its environs as the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) crackdown on matatus flouting rules governing the sector took effect.

Many roads in the morning were clear of heavy traffic contrary to the usual hustle and bustle as several matatu SACCOS withdrew matatus with loud exhaust systems and elaborate graffiti from the roads.

In the operation that climaxed along Magadi Road, NTSA said the exercise will continue until all matatus are compliant.

"We chose this route because we had engaged the SACCO owners three weeks prior to the exercise. Sixty per cent of them complied however the rest chose to ignore and they have been served with a warning by their registration plates being impounded," said NTSA Chair Lee Kinyanjui.

Kinyanjui said the exercise will go on until all matatus have complied regardless of how powerful the owner is perceived to be: "The model of creating SACCOS was to make the industry self-regulated. But since their leadership has lapsed then we have been forced to step in."

He complained that operators were leveraging on presidential directive that allowed graffiti on matatus to claim harassment by the regulations.

"Even if we are to allow creativity it has to be done within a frame work that will not compromise the state of the nation. There is no way we shall allow graffiti to cover windscreens, windows that police cannot see through or covers SACCO details putting the commuters safety at risk," he argued.

According to the NTSA Act 2014, innovative decorations (graffiti) should not be offensive, sprayed, drawn or affixed on any window. The regulation also demands no additional exterior or interior lighting other than those put by the manufacturer: "These lights make it difficult for motorists to know the difference between them and indicators especially at night."

Traffic Senior Superintendent Kipkemboi Chesang who was leading the exercise alongside NTSA officials confirmed that seven vehicles had their registration plates impounded after raiding Magadi Road that leads to Rongai.

"This is just a 'mock' exercise so we take their registration plates and advise them on where to correct. We will allow them on the road only when they have complied," said Chesang.

NTSA however said they have no problem with matatus that had installed television screens only if they display 'clean' content suitable for all age demographics.

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