Opinion

Are Matatu Cartels Powerful Than Police In Kajiado?

Benjamin ole Tipatet, the author.

By Benjamin Ole Tipatet

Given Kajiado is the most expensive matatu route in Kenya it should be able and must provide the best services to its customers.

Isinya-Kajiado route, a fifteen minutes ride, costs Sh100. Thika-Nairobi route, which is triple or three times the distance, costs Sh100.

On Thika road, traffic is much more and fuel burn is thus compounded.

I notice that when the Sacco’s on this route have a grievance, they ground transport at will and with impunity.

The police literally go down on their knees. They should thus be fully compliant.

I have noticed about three roadblocks between Kitengela and Kajiado. One at the Millennium stage in Kisaju, another one past Moi Girls Isinya and another one past UMMA University.

Police manning them do not bother about matatus at all. This makes me think that the rumour that these Sacco’s have an elaborate arrangement with the police where they collect a daily, weekly “protection fee” could actually be true.

I make a good example of seatbelts. Most of these matatus do not have serviceable seatbelts.

When you mention it they tell you things like “hawako leo”, ” hawana shida”, “usiogope”, hawatatusimamisha”!

True to their word, when a matatu approaches a roadblock they just flash their headlights and change gears!

Speed governors are of course alien. I once alighted from a matatu because at 140 kph I thought we were being driven dangerously.

Sadly, just like most bars, matatus are largely owned by police officers which are against what CS Matiang’i said. Conflict of interest.

A solution to all these is required. Let us encourage one or two brand new Saccos to provide competition.

I remember how Wamasaa Sacco came in and fares dropped by half. We were relieved but they soon joined in and fares are all square now.

Let CS Matiang’i do an audit of this route in particular and establish how many of his officers own matatus.

Some ignoramus will ask if it is a crime for an officer to own a matatu. No, it is not but enforcement will be a challenge due to conflict of interest.

NTSA should regulate fares in relation to distance and other dynamics!

We need a crackdown to ensure compliance on speed governors and seatbelts regulations.

Finally, let wananchi care about themselves by refusing to board overloaded matatus and those whose seatbelts are not functioning.

At the end of the day, it is your safety!

The writer is a human rights activist and commentator on current affairs.

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