The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Matatus Protest Over New Buses On Thika Routes

A new mini-bus frimr in Thika has been allowed to operate after Monday strike to block it failed. Transport in Thika town and its environs was disrupted after matatu crews downed their tools to protest the entry of the Mpya buses which reduced fares from Sh150 to Sh80 in some routes. The more than 100 matatu owners from Mt Kenya matatu sacco withdrew their operations leaving passengers stranded after the Thika Municipal Council, the local administration and police ignored their grievances.

The new company has introduced 60-seater buses to ply Nairobi-Ruiru-Thika route. The giant Mount Kenya Sacco who run 14-seater matatus is not happy about the new bus for reducing fare. Thika deputy OCPD Caleb Wesa said the Kenya Mpya were allowed to operate on the route after meeting the requirements. "The Kenya Mpya buses have complied with the law and with the new constitution they are allowed to conduct business anywhere in the country," Wesa said.

Thika mayor John wandui said the Kenya Mpya buses are free to operate in the town. The Mt Kenya matatu sacco grievances, he said, are not within the law. He added that any business which has conformed to the law is allowed to operate for healthy competition. "The council askaris should seize from harrassing kenya Mpya buses and allow them to operate untill all grievances are addressed," Wandui said.

Thika Town Clerk John Mutie refused to heed to Mt Kenya matatu sacco call to cancel a licence he had issued Kenya Mpya Buses 4 months ago. A director with Kenya Mpya Buses Mbogo Kuria, said that they introduced seven high occupancy vehicles on the Thika-Nairobi route after complying with TLB regulations and paying all the required levies as stipulated by PSV.

He pointed out that his fleet was being harassed by the Council askaris despite having been licensed to operate at the Thika bus termini and having met all the requirements demanded by the Thika Municipal Council.

Kuria said that all his seven buses were impounded and confiscated by the Thika Municipal Council askaris last week and his drivers and touts driven out of the bus terminus in what he described as unfair intimidation and harassment from the Council. "Kenyans are free to do business in any part of this country" said the irked Kuria who was displaying all the relevant documents that allowed him to operate along the Nairobi-Thika route.

Mt Kenya matatu sacco chairman Micheal Kariuki however has threatened to abscord from paying council levies if the buses were not withdrawn from Thika. "The council is favouring one side by allowing the high capacity buses to operate in their territory whereas the owners of Kenya Mpya are from Kirinyaga and there the council denied them licence to operate,"said Kariuki.

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