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Matatus new woes:Where are the activists?

27 Jun

I’m writing this article hoping it will go beyond the blog and probably get the attention of one of the three institutions that would have {if only they are willing} made a very big impact on solving some if not all of the problems affecting our industry. There is an institution called the Kenya human rights commission– another one called The law society of Kenya– and finally the Kenya anti-corruption commission. It seems there is no hope relying on the judicially as it is proofing not to have the will if not the facility to end this madness that has been causing us so much suffering. The Kenya human rights commission is a well respected institution but they seem to have forgotten the humans who toil day and night to provide transport to millions of Kenyans. I have never in my over ten years on the road; heard anybody from the human right watchdog came forward to fight for our rights. Despite the many times our woes have been hitting the headlines in the local media.

I recently joined or say I was incorporated in a transport management company and so far we already have five vehicles under our belt- four buses and one Nissan matatu. Over the past one month alone I have paid court fine amounting to over twenty thousand shillings-and as I’m writing this article, one of our drivers is in custody and will be in court later in the day. He was arrested yesterday and denied bond; the cops said they have orders from above not to give cash bonds to matatu operators. It has been a tough month and I can’t say I’m glad it’s over because the way things look, it can only get worse.

It started with the new changes announced by the police department where all the traffic heads were transferred and later the PPO Nairobi ordered a crackdown on traffic offenders. While we thought it was an all inclusive traffic regulation that would affect all motorists we were shocked to find that the whole idea was targeting matatu workers. The daily papers reported that many offenders were arrested and taken to court; well that part was very true; the only problem was that, most of the said traffic offenders were touts who were not wearing the right color of the shirt as Michuki laws require.

One of our conductors was arrested in the morning; spent the whole day and night at the station and then taken to court and charged for not wearing  uniform- although he had his red marron trouser and matching half-coat. He was fined ten thousand shillings. The following day one of our drivers was stopped as he took the vehicle for regular servicing [he was not carrying passengers}. Upon inspection, the brake lights were not functioning on one side. He was arrested and locked up and also the vehicle impounded; he spent the day and night at the station then taken to Kibera law court the following day. He was fined five thousand shillings. As though that was not enough two days later another driver got a ticket for obstruction-. I went to the station to complain about the ticket since I felt it was not justified seeing he was at the allocated bus stop but got a rude shock from the traffic police when they told me I should thank them that they did not impound the bus. Another ten thousand shillings awaits to exchanged hands.

And just when I was thinking the bad omen had passed, another driver from our company called me yesterday and told me to go for the bus at the station since he had been arrested and locked up. When I went to the station to bail him out, I was told no cash bill for matatu drivers and I would better be in court at 8am if I want to get him out. He will be charged with obstructing other motorists although there is no one complaining of being obstructed. I guess I will have to pay his fine which I’m sure will go beyond ten thousand shillings. He had requested me to get him out on bond and let him sweat it out in court with the cop but I feel this will put our business on the black book with the cops and risk more arrests. I don’t honestly think that this is the right way to go about it. That is why I’m calling on the Kenya human rights commission to intervene and also the law society of Kenya to issue us with lawyers or rather give us guidelines on what to do and how we can reach them for assistance when incidences like this happens. The Kenya anti-corruption commission must wake up and do their jobs as this corruption I’m talking about here is not done secretly; we have the hard evidence if that can help since the police issue us with tickets to appear in court during the day and at the evenings we take them back to the station and have them withdrawn. We can even make copies of the tickets if it will be useful. Please somebody do something.

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1 Comment

Posted by on June 27, 2012 in Matatu matters

 

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One response to “Matatus new woes:Where are the activists?

  1. sgoodman32nycrrcom

    July 18, 2012 at 12:37 am

    I am so glad that Al Jazeera published your story. James, your writing is very thought-provoking and insightful. I’ve learned so much about life in Nairobi through your bog. Keep up the good work. I’ve shared your blog on my Facebook page. May you and your lovely family keep safe and well.

     

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