The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Matatu Operators Defy Return-to-Work Appeal

Photo: Capital FM/File
Thousands stranded as public service vehicles in Nairobi go on strike over the new traffic law.

Public transport in Nairobi and many parts of the country was paralysed for the second day as matatu operators ignored a plea to return to work.

Thousands of commuters were stranded in many parts of the city while striking operators attacked a few of their colleagues who wanted to resume work.

Transport PS Cyrus Njiru threatened to revoke licenses of matatu operators on strike. He said the government will not relent until the laws are obeyed.

He addressed a press conference at the ministry headquarters late yesterday as thousands of Kenyans continued to trek to and from their places of work.

Police spokesman Erick Kiraithe said they will arrest striking operators blocking the roads or attacking other motorists. Thika Road, Jogoo Road, Mombasa Road, Waiyaki Way, Lang'ata Road and Kiambu Road that lead to the Central Business District were the most affected.

Appeals to return to work by Matatu Welfare Association and Matatu Owners Association officials were ignored. Dickson Mbugua of MWA and his MOA counterpart Simon Kimutai said they plan to engage relevant authorities on the possibility of suspending the new traffic law with the view of reviewing it.

Meanwhile, Embakasi MP Ferdinad Waititu and Makadara MP Gideon Mbuvi sonko have sued the government and the Minister of Transport Amos Kimunya over the implementation of the Traffic Amendments Act, 2012.

Under a certificate of urgency, the two sought orders to restrain Kimunya from implementing the act until the application is heard inter-parties.

The Traffic Amendment Act 2012 was sponsored by Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo. It provides stiffer penalties for offenders and introduces other regulations to curb road accidents caused by human error.

The act proposes the establishment of the Kenya Traffic Police Department and prescribes that all police officers be required to enforce traffic laws.

Drunk driving will attract ten years in jail or a Sh500,000 fine. Motorists who drive on pavements or pedestrian walkways will be jailed for three months or pay a Sh30,000 fine.

Reckless and dangerous driving will attract a Sh100,000 fine or two years in jail for first time offenders. Waititu said the rules do not take into account that the roads in Nairobi are not well maintained. He adds that they fail to appreciate the heavy jams experienced in Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and other towns.

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