Hundreds of passengers were stranded at the Malindi bus park yesterday after matatu operators withdrew their vehicles for fear of being arrested by police.
Officers from the inspection unit of the traffic department were on a crackdown for unroadworthy vehicles at Mida area on the Malindi-Mombasa highway. The operators kept off the road to avoid the heavy penalties. Passengers travelling to Mombasa were stranded after they found the new bus park empty. The few operators on the road took advantage of the crackdown to hike fare from between Sh300 and Sh350 to between Sh500 and Sh1000.
A spot-check at the bus park revealed that some passengers had returned to their homes after waiting for more than five hours. Maurice Mangi from Magarini who was taking his daughter to college said the fare was too high. "I came here at 8am and found the bus park empty. Those operating are charging high fares, this has really disrupted our travel plan and I have been forced to cancel my journey until the situation calms," he said.
He asked the traffic department to look for a proper system of conducting the operation to avoid disrupting operations of public service vehicles. Some other operators thanked the traffic police for conducting the operation saying it would reduce the increased cases of accidents on the roads. Mohamed Badawy the chairman of Munawar Shuttle plying the Malindi Mombasa highway said all vehicles should be checked to ensure they abide to the laws. "I would be happy if the crackdown was conducted daily, many people like bending the law which has led to many accidents," he said.