Matatu Drivers Fallout With Car Owners During Public Protests Over Passengers

Police officers at Kerugoya protests on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.
Police officers at Kerugoya protests on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.
Inooro TV

Police officers were on Wednesday forced to intervene after a fallout between matatu owners and private car drivers temporarily affected public service transport in Kirinyaga County.

The matatu operators and drivers claimed that the private car owners had infiltrated their sector and were ferrying members of the public.

The operators further argued that the cars were operating illegally without seeking license clearance from the national government.

The protests were so intense that some of the drivers, moreso those attached to Kukena Sacco, drove to a section where the private car drivers were operating in, affecting service delivery.

A photo of matatus at a bus terminus
A photo of matatus at a bus terminus in Nairobi, Kenya.
Motor Trends

"Because of the unlicensed vehicles in Kirinyaga, they are not even given the so-called permissions to ferry passengers. The county government claims not to have given them permission to act in Kirinyaga," Harrison Gichira, the Kukena Sacco Chairperson, told the press.

The owners of the private cars, however, refuted the claims arguing that the had secured operational licenses and were allocated a terminus to operate from.

They further challenged the matatu operators to switch slots with them if they felt their location offered better business returns.

"We are saying this to Kukena, if they are seeing the place the county has allocated us to do business is the best place to do the business, they should come to work here and we move to where they are.

"We do not have a problem with them because we are here to put food on the table," one of the car owners stated.

Kerugoya Police Commander Japhet Makembo, however, intervened in the protests challenging the parties to send their teams to sort out their operations.

"I am asking members of Kukena Sacco to take their cars back to the stage while the other car owners return to their slots to allow us to sort this issue out.

"Officials (from matatu sacco and private cars) will come to explain their claims to us," Makembo stated.

This comes as the police, in conjunction with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) continued to carry out a crackdown aimed at restoring sanity on the roads.

In March, Interior CS Kithure Kindiki announced that the Ministry was targeting cars, especially Sientas and Noahs, for operating in the public service sector without permits.

"There are people who run PSV businesses outside the law. There is a category of people doing PSV businesses but they are not licensed and certified as such. There is a Sienta group, and there is another one called Noah group, these are some of the problem areas we will clean out,” Kindiki stated.

Kiharu MP Ndindi Nyoro, however, defended private cars in public service noting that businesses should be accorded support to grow.

"For those in the Kenyan transport sector, sometimes I read stories in the paper that I know are not from the government," he responded at the time.

"For those carrying passengers, whether they are using matatus, Probox, and Sienta, our duty is to sit down and find ways to support them conduct their businesses without fear because this is a supportive government."

Private cars must seek authority clearance before serving as taxis or joining taxi-hailing applications.

Interior CS Kithure Kindiki speaking during the First National Border Management Conference on April 2, 2024.
Kithure Kindiki
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