Sabahi (Washington, DC)

Kenya: 111 Matatus Impounded, 33 Drivers Arrested After Nairobi Transit Strike

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

Kenyan police impounded 111 matatus and arrested 33 drivers Wednesday (March 5th) after they abandoned their vehicles on roads in Nairobi in protest of higher parking fees, Kenya's Daily Nation reported.

The drivers will be charged with obstruction, which attracts a 50,000-shilling ($577) fine or up to one year in jail, Nairobi traffic enforcement officer Edward Mwamburi said.

Nairobi County increased parking fees by more than 100% last month, with the daily price of parking a car 300 shillings ($3.50) up from 140 shillings ($1.60), effective Wednesday, Kenya's The Standard reported.

The National Transport and Safety Authority announced Wednesday afternoon that the strike had ended and a deal was reached between the county government and public transit operators.

But the deal will not protect the matatu operators from prosecution, said Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Michael Kamau.

"Every single one of them will have their number plates withdrawn and further, more severe sanctions will follow to the full extent of the law," Kamua said in a statement. "No one will be allowed to cause chaos under the pretext of seeking justice."

Commuters in Nairobi were forced to walk or find alternate modes of transportation on Wednesday as the abandoned matatus blocked major transit arteries across the city. The number of train commuters Wednesday increased by 60%, according to a statement from the railway authority.

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