Coastweek -- Monday
of this week saw a national strike – well almost – called by
matatu associations who took action by asking their members to
remove their vehicles from the roads in response to a
declaration by the government that they would be enforcing the
Michuki Rules as well as the National Transport and Safety
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
be enforced was the basic Traffic Act and all its attendant
evening, the matatu associations had held meetings with the
relevant government agencies and agreed to return to work with
immediate effect and – to the surprise of most Kenyans – they
apologised for the inconvenience they had caused the public.
this was from the bottom of the heart or simply a damage
limitation exercise remains to be seen.
reality during the day was that wananchi did not loudly protest
at the action taken by the government.
truth be told, the apparent attitude by the public was – about
the users of matatus have been suffering silently especially
since they had supported the original implementation of the
Michuki Rules by walking to work for several days as the matatus
then went on strike.
matatus improved when the Rules were implemented and then
Minister who followed Michuki was lackadaisical about the
continued enforcement of the rules and the next government
Minister who followed in fact decided that they were not to be
enforced – almost creating a situation where obeying the Rules
and indeed the Traffic Act was an optional extra!!
leadership failed the public and the matatu users in this.
industry subsequently relapsed into what we see today with
additional impunity coming in as the stealthy finger of
corruption slowly wove its way into the fabric of how matatus
have quickly become apparent to the Federation of Public
Transport Owners (FPTO) that this Monday’s strike was not going
to work hence they quickly adjusted course and then agreed to
dialogue with the authorities with their vehicles on the road
rather than off the road like happened with the initial strike
when the Rules were introduced.
thing that struck me about the reality today was that we now
have a Federation.
one used to hear only about the Matatu Owners Association and
the Matatu Welfare Association.
have several more that have come to form the Federation – the
Matatu Transport Vehicle Association, the Association of Bus
Operators Kenya, Mount Kenya Matatu Operators Association and
the Association of Matatu Operators.
sure that there are many more out there but the proliferation
means that the business must be booming.
means that the issues that have to be tackled must have also
“boomed” by a similar amount in the intervening period.
is it that the FPTO are taking to strike action?
all, the issue here is about having the right hardware to
fact they even decided to even take strike action is a worry.
mind, it shows that the leadership of the organisations and the
FPTO are not wired to consider the customer.
key driver is profitability for their membership at any cost.
passenger is a mere pawn in the game and is treated just like
the matatu – make a minimum investment and maximise the return.
requirements being enforced are straight forward and are a no
authorities require that the vehicle has an inspection
certificate which will have been issued for meeting a basic set
of statutory requirements.
vehicle should have a speed governor, be fitted with safety
belts, be in good mechanical condition and have good tyres.
agencies will also inspect to ensure that the vehicle does not
have blinking lights, bull bars, extended rims and a running
also look for modified exhaust systems, tinted or reflective
material, loud music systems, blaring horns as well as ensuring
that the vehicles have the appropriate insurance.
other enforcement issue is about the “hardware” of the people
driver is required to have a valid driving license, wear
prescribe uniform and have a PSV badge with a photo.
should also not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs –
legal or otherwise.
same applies to the conductor of the vehicle.
driver and conductor are both liable to action should the
vehicle be overloaded or carrying excess passengers.
should also ensure that their body parts stay within the
confines of the vehicle unless they are making specific signals.
must obey the traffic signs and the follow the Traffic Act and
touting is not allowed – passengers should choose what vehicle
they get in to.
Passengers are also expected to help in their own safety by
wearing the seat belts provided.
should complying with these simple rules cause the leadership of
the public transport owners and operators to create such a
would they protest at common sense?
matatu sense of impunity trickled its way from the grass roots
(drivers) to the leadership or are we seeing a case where this
has always been the reality – that the bad behaviour of the
matatu industry is actually led from the top?
Whatever the case, it is time that the leadership of the FPTO
and all its member associations and the matatu SACCOs take
responsibility of their sector and apply the rules themselves
rather than complain about being policed.
safety should not be an issue or even discussed.
numbers that can be syndicated by the various organisations and
SACCOs which means that cost of purchasing the requisite
hardware can be brought down to manageable levels that does not
burden the business.
Kachumbari says, the Michuki Rules rule again.
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