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Matatus, Taxis forced to keep off City Centre as strike bites

By Isaac Meso | March 5th 2014
Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero addresses protesters at the city centre as strike over hiked parking fee continues. (Photo:Denis Okeyo/Standard)

By Isaac Meso     

Nairobi, Kenya: Commuters within the Nairobi Central Business District have been forced to seek an alternative means of transport after irate Matatu operators stormed various Bus termini within the city paralysing transport.

Matatu operators roughed up passengers out of Public Service Vehicles operating within the CBD while others used their vehicles to block the busy roads.

At Kencom and Ambassador Bus termini, passengers were forced out of the buses belonging to KBS and City Hopper bus companies while their drivers were threatened and urged to stay away from the vehicles.

Taxi drivers and Boda Boda operators were not spared either as some of them were forced to flee from the irate youths who had taken control of all the major roads within the city threatening to stone their vehicles if they did not take part in the strike.

The matatu operators said that they would remain on strike until the County government of Nairobi reviews the rate of parking fee being imposed on them.

“We are not going to be fleeced even the little money we earn by the county government. Charging us Sh8,000 from the  normal Sh3,000 per month as parking fee is just unrealistic” said Kinuthia Njage, a matatu operator.

Kinuthia further noted that the county government had introduced punitive by-laws against matatu operators which they found difficult to comply with.

“We are supposed to pay Sh8,000 per month and we spend  only 10 minutes within the bus terminus while picking passenger or attract a fine if you extend your stay” he added.

Inadequate parking space

The Matatu operators are also infuriated by the county government’s move to increase parking fee for their vehicles yet there is no enough space to accommodate their vehicles.

“We are surprised that the city council is increasing the parking fee yet there is no space to park our vehicles. Let them create space first and then they can start charging us for parking space” said Alex Kamau , a taxi driver.

The striking matatu operators marched to city hall to seek avenue with Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero after they spotted him heading to his office on foot.

Kidero urged the Matatu operators to return to work assuring them that the issue was going to be ironed out soon after he meets with the county officials.

“We are going to deliberate on your issue but you need to calm down. Send me at least five of your representatives to my office so that we can discuss this matter and find a lasting solution to it” said Kidero.

However the Matatu operators booed and chanted anti-Kidero slogans saying that the governor meeting with their representative was a way of distracting them.

“Kidero is lying to us, we are not going to send some individuals into his office that he may lie to them again. The other day we sent 8 representatives to his office but nothing came out of that meeting,” said one of the Matatu operators.

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