, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – Police have claimed that Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators who boycotted work on Monday were threatened and intimidated by their colleagues.
Traffic Commandant Joseph Ole Tito told Capital in the Morning that a driver who was kidnapped at Mlolongo on the Nairobi-Mombasa highway by his peers who were enforcing the strike.
“At around 4.30am these criminals went to the various termini, and whenever they found any passengers waiting for a vehicle, they chased them away,” he said.
“At Mlolongo, they kidnapped one of the drivers who had ferried passengers from Kitengela before hijacking his vehicle,” he stated. Mr Tito said that several suspects had been arrested and were due to appear in court to face various charges.
The traffic boss explained that the crackdown on unroadworthy matatus and those flouting traffic regulations would continue despite Monday’s strike by the operators.
Meanwhile, the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) has urged the government to beef up security on the various routes to reduce intimidation of operators by hooligans.
MOA chairman Simon Kimutai termed the strike unnecessary as a consultative meeting with Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere on Sunday had been fruitful as it addressed most of their concerns.
“There are hired hooligans who are ready to cause mayhem so I would rather lose the day’s collection rather than the (vehicle),” the MOA chairman as he explained why many vehicles stayed off the roads.
“Yes, we need to see that there are business risks but we did not buy the vehicles so they may sit at home. We need to have them making money,” he pointed out.
Mr Kimutai said that dialogue should be embraced in the resolution of their grievances.
“The only way to solve this is to ensure that the commissioner understands our concerns and gets the whole picture. That is when he can provide solutions,” he said.
“Yesterday, (Sunday) over 60 percent of our issues were actually solved by the commissioner and he gave a directive to the Traffic Commandant to enforce the recommendations. What else do we want? Do we want to just prove ourselves that we can hold people at ransom?” he posed.
In Central Province, police said they were vigilant to deal with organised groups that threatened matatu operators after they made good their threat to go on a three-day countrywide strike.
Central Provincial Police Officer John M’Mbijjiwe said that those found breaking the law or harassing passengers and other operators would face the full force of the law.
Speaking in Nyahururu town, the PPO said that police officers were ready to offer security to matatu operators wishing to ferry passengers to their destinations.
“We have talked to them and are willing to go on with their business but they are expressing fears that they may be subjected to harassment for failing to take part in the strike,” he said adding that police patrols in the area had been intensified to ensure the safety of all travellers.
Meanwhile, motorcycle taxi operators took advantage of the strike to make booming business as commuters were forced to use them to get to their place of work.
Majority of the matatu operators interviewed by Capital News vowed to go on with the strike for the planned three days.