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Matatu strike looms over new traffic rules

Thousands of Nairobi residents could be forced to walk to work beginning Tuesday unless the deadline for matatus to comply with the new traffic rules is extended.

A spot-check by NairobiNews revealed that very few matatus in the city had complied with the new rules especially on the fitting of speed governors.

Those public service vehicles that have fitted the gadgets are yet to get a compliance certificate, arguing that there was a long queue at the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit in Industrial Area.

“Only four of the PSVs that operate here are fitted with speed governors. We have more than 60 vehicles, so come tomorrow, most of them will be off the road,” said Moses Njeru, a driver on Route 23 that terminates at Kangemi.

John Mwaura, a driver with Eastleigh Sacco, said only three PSVs on the route had been fitted with the speed gadgets.

“I don’t understand why we need new speed governors. In Nairobi, most of the vehicles are always picking up and dropping off passengers. Who ever gets to do 70kph?” he posed.

Frederick Olet, an official with Baba Dogo Travellers Sacco said out of their 80 matatus, only 12 had complied.

“There will be very few matatus on the roads tomorrow (Tuesday) and the fares will definitely go up. The owners of the matatus will also be seeking to recoup the costs incurred in complying with the rules. So it may take a while before the fares go down at all, if they ever will,” he added.

Speed governors are reportedly in short supply and the cost has shot up to about Sh30,000 with some going for as high as Sh50,000.

Other saccos reported compliance levels below 50 per cent of their fleets, meaning that the city is set for a week of transport chaos. 

The National Transport Safety Authority on its part said it will not extend the deadline stating that the owners of the matatus were given ample time.

NTSA chairman Lee Kinyanjui added that the owners were part of the team that decided on the date but failed to comply waiting for the last minute.

Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua said the association will today file a case at the High Court seeking an extension of the deadline.

Besides the speed governors, the rules also stipulate that matatu crew get a basic salary, and that all public service vehicles be registered and run by a sacco.