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Matiang'i shocker awaits those flouting laws

You will be arrested from Monday if you board a matatu that is already full.

 Owners of public services vehicles that get involved in road accidents will also be arrested and prosecuted together with their drivers, insurers and body builders — if the body of the car is found to be sub-standard.

 These are some of the tough new rules that will take effect from Monday across the country as the government moves to restore order in the chaotic public transport sector ruled by cartels and rogue operators for years. 

“We must change and we are going to change because we cannot live this way. This lawlessness and madness on our roads has to come to an end,” said Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i.

 Matiang’i and his Transport counterpart James Macharia vowed that they will not relent in their resolve to fix the the management of the public transport sector in the country.

 They spoke at the Kenya School of Government during a meeting with various stakeholders in the public transport sector.

 Matiang’i also declared war on those he called ‘faceless people’ and cartels whom he accused of creating chaos in the matatu sector. 

Read: Passengers not spared in State’s renewed plan to enforce ‘Michuki rules’

“Where else on earth do you find a person who buys a vehicle and before it can start operating you have to pay some mad person some Sh50,000 for nothing?” posed Matiang’i.

 Aware that matatu operators would never name the cartels due to fear and intimidation, Matiang’i promised to root them out and restore sanity in the sector.

 “This lawlessness has to come to an end, it is criminal living which we cannot accept,” said the CS.

 So far, 2,626 fatalities have been recorded as a result of road accidents this year compared to 2,377 at the same time last year, representing a10.5 percent increase.

 Some 3,922 people have sustained serious injuries compared to 3,240, which is 21 percent higher.

 “We have pain across the sector and PSV has grown into a monster. There is need to restore order,”Matiang’i said, adding that reforming the sector will not be a walk in the park.

 Under the new plan, unrecognized persons found “manning” bus stops will be rounded up and charged in court.

 Drivers of PSVs should have valid licences and badges with long distance PSVs required to have two drivers each driving eight hours.

Read: Nairobi PSV commuters stranded as traffic cops enforce Michuki rules

  PSV operators have until Monday to ensure they comply with traffic laws, popularly known as the ‘Michuki rules’.

 All PSV operators are required to wear uniform with conductors dressed in blue and drivers in maroon.

 Vehicles must also be insured and not have tinted windows.

 According to statistics, 15 percent of PSVs operate without licenses, while 26 percent of drivers and 32 percent of conductors operate without them.

 The purge, Matiang’i said, will also be expanded to include insurance companies.

 He cited several cases where insurance companies continue to get premiums from motor vehicles yet they have failed to compensate accident victims. 

“Do you know of any one of these accidents that have taken place recently where the victims have been compensated by any insurance company?” he asked.

 “The kind of idiocy and madness we have witnessed in the insurance sector cannot be allowed to prevail. We will take their certificates,” a visibly agitated Matiang’i said.

 Matiang’i warned that body builders will also be hunted down should they fail to comply with the Kenya Bureau of Standards standards.

 “We will have no mercy and we have increased the operations budget for this month and next month as we expect more visitors,” he said.

 Matiang’I said to sustain the momentum, a multi-agency team had been set up and will be generating quarterly reports to the President. 

Motor vehicles that are involved in criminal activities such as transportation of drugs and contraband goods will also be forfeited to the government.

 “We will look at how to clean out old vehicles from police stations as commanders are suffering,”Matiang’i said.

 The CS warned that the famous “Michuki Rules” have not been repealed and as such, they will be implemented without fear or favour.

BODA BODA 

Also targeted are Boda Boda (motorcycles) — estimated at 700,000 and expected to hit one million by 2020. They are alleged to be used by criminals and a task force chaired by the Transport ministry has been formed to streamline their operations. 

“They should follow the law and guidelines. Without laws, we go to anarchy,” Matiang’i said.

 On his part, Macharia said there is need to widen the target to include vehicle owners if order is to be instilled on the roads.

 “Principals employ people who they know are reckless. I think the first people that should be behind bars are owners,” Macharia said, challenging NTSA to employ preventive technology strategy.

 Macharia said Saccos that fail compliance will be de-registered.

Read: State agencies have failed to implement PSV body standards

 Statistics from NTSA show that motorcycles contribute 18 percent of the fatalities, PSV (24%), commercial (26%), private (30%) while government contributes two percent.

 Most accidents occur between 5pm and 8pm.

 The National Transport and Safety Authority’s Director General, Francis Meja, said the northern corridor remains the biggest culprit in road carnage. 

The Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions, Dorcas Oduor, challenged investigators handling traffic cases to employ technology to enhance convictions.

 Police Inspector General Joseph Boinett said he will hold regional and county commissioners responsible for any laxity.

 Boinett said a team of six independent teams has been dispatched to support counties with enforcement.

 SUPPORT

 The government’s move received support from a section of the public. In Nairobi, residents urged police to deal ruthlessly with touts who dictate high fares. 

“We welcome the zeal to bring sanity on our roads. But it should extend to those who have caused this mess. Those people who reap where they have not sown. Makanga who dictate fares and have formed cartels that rule the stages,” Joseph Omwanga, a resident of Buruburu said.

 Omar Swaleh, who owns a two buses plying Mombasa road route, too, supported the State’s intervention.

 “As the government deals with us it should also go for those who make our businesses leak,” Swaleh said. 

A commuter, James Kimani, says its easy to go Nairobi but hard to get out since vehicles return upon dropping them for fear of being nabbed by traffic police. 

“Vehicle’s from Kikuyu town communicate with each other all the time. When there is an inspection, they inform each other and they avoid going to town” Kimani said.

 In Limuru, residents urged the government to intervene, saying operators had hiked fares on the excuse of high fuel costs and few passengers. 

The crackdown on PSV vehicles has seen some leave the roads while remaining ones carry the recommended passengers.

 “Its only one route which has hiked fare with Sh20. We are now paying Sh40 for a distance we used to pay Sh20. This is too much because the distance is short” said Jane Njeri, a commuter.

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