Capital FM (Nairobi)

6 March 2014

Kenya: Govt Draws the Line for Protesting Matatus

Police disperse matatu and taxi operators who have vowed to continue with the strike until their grievances are addressed. ( Resource: Kenya Police Disperse Striking Matatu, Taxi Operators

Nairobi — The government says it will withdraw the operating licenses for SACCOS whose matatus blocked roads on Wednesday while protesting increased parking fees.

In a statement, Transport and Infrastructure Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau said that every vehicle involved in the mass action will have their registration numbers withdrawn.

Kamau explained that the operators seriously inconvenienced ordinary Kenyans who had nothing to do with the strike from going about their lawful business.

"All those matatu operators involved will be punished. Every single one of them will have their number plates withdrawn and further, more severe, sanctions will follow to the full extent of the law. This will include canceling operating licenses for SACCOs under which the vehicles operate," he stated.

He pointed out that that this will not be tolerated as no one is allowed to cause chaos under the pretext of seeking justice.

"During the course of the day, they have blocked roads and highways, delayed traffic, and very seriously inconvenienced ordinary Kenyans going about their lawful business. Let me express my gratitude to the disciplined forces for the service they have rendered in handling the matter," he explained.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has in the meantime called for further discussions between the County Government of Nairobi and the operators to find an amicable way of addressing the problem.

Director General Francis Meja advised all parties involved to embrace dialogue and consultation whenever they have grievances instead of resorting to protests which end up inconveniencing innocent commuters and the general public.

"The National Transport and Safety Authority has noted with concern protests and disruption of transport by public transport operators in Nairobi today (Wednesday). The protests which led to blocking of various routes in Nairobi were caused by complaints by PSV operators regarding increasing of parking fees by the County Government of Nairobi," he said in a statement.

The Nairobi County Executive in charge of Public works, Roads and Transport sector Evans Ondieki however pointed out that the law has to be followed.

He described Thursday's actions by the matatus and taxis as hooliganism and reiterated that it will not be tolerated.

While defending City Hall's new rates, he urged the operators to pay up us other road users had also complied.

"The matatu and taxi drivers are not above the law. They should act within its confines otherwise we have nothing to talk about. And by the way, all other motorists are paying up the new rates and the operators are no different," he stated.

His sentiments were echoed by his counterpart in charge of Finance and Economic planning Gregory Mwakanongo who stated that the parking fees in force are stipulated in the County Finance Act 2013 passed by County Assembly of Nairobi.

In a statement, Mwakanongo said that prior to the enactment of the Act, stakeholders including city residents and transport operators were invited for consultations.

He explained that during the said consultations, the public was appraised on the various ways that the County intended to raise and spend resources.

"The public responses to these proposals were thereafter presented before the County Assembly in the form of the draft Finance Bill 2013 for deliberation and enactment into the Finance Act 2013. The Act was gazetted on the 26th of September 2013 (the effective date of the Act)," he said.

"The parking rates for public service vehicles as stipulated in the Act are as follows, Sh5,000 for 1-13 Seater (matatu) per month, Sh8,000 for 14-42 Seater (minibuses) per month, sh10,000 for 43-62 Seater buses per month and sh6,000 per month for saloon taxis."

He pointed out that the Matatu Welfare Association contested these rates in court and lost and appealed for a stay order pending appeal which was not granted and that it is now in the Court of Appeal.

He stressed that the County Government takes great exception to the impunity, blackmail and lawlessness displayed and will not condone any form of impunity.

"We would like to thank the over 7,146 out of the 12,000 PSV's that have already paid up the new rates as at 10.00am this morning. We are aware that there were more PSV's who were willing and were actually on the queues to make their payments but were incited and intimidated by hired goons," he stated.

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InFocus

Kenyan Govt Draws Line Over Protesting Matatus

The government has said it will withdraw licenses from matatu operators who blocked the roads while protesting against an increase in parking fees. Read more »