Kenya's Economy Bears the Cost of a Taxi Strike

Photo: The Star
Public transport enters day five.

Nairobi — The Kenyan economy literally came to a standstill last week as Public Service Vehicle operators down their tools in a crippling strike to protest new traffic laws to be enforced by the government starting December 1.

The new laws are aimed at taming the escalating rate of road carnage in the country and impose heavy fines on traffic offences such as overloading, over speeding, drunk driving, overlapping on pavement among others.

Nairobi for instance was turned into a 'walking' nation with thousands more failing to turn up for work for lack of means.

The strike was later called off on Friday afternoon following a series of meetings between the Ministry of Transport and the representatives of the public service vehicle operators in what was understood as a promise by the government to 'go easy' on some of the new laws.

Motorcycle operators were in brisk business charging as high as $5 for a distance that ordinarily attracts $0.80 in bus fare. Matters were worsened by the heavy rains which have been pounding Nairobi lately.

Violence incidents by the striking operators were reported in a number of towns but security agencies were on high alert.

However, most of the Kenyans are of the view that the new laws should be enforced to bring sanity onto Kenya's killer roads.

Recent statistics indicate that over 3,000 lives are lost in Kenya every year due to road accidents largely caused by careless driving.

The government has since engaged the public and private sector players in a campaign aimed at addressing the issue.

Major highways were also blockaded by the striking matatus among them Nairobi-Nakuru and Mombasa-Nairobi causing a serious traffic snarl-up.

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