Passengers stranded in Kenyan capital

May 12, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 12 – Thousands of passengers were stranded on Wednesday in Nairobi after hundreds of public transport operators grounded their vehicles for fear of arrest by the police.

Most of the passengers were unable to get to their places of work or made it there late, because of the police crackdown which targeted unroadworthy vehicles on various city routes.

“I have been waiting for a matatu for more than two hours.  The few that come are full and are charging double the fare we usually pay,” Mercy Wambui, a resident of Umoja estate said.

The situation left thousands of passengers on Jogoo Road, Thika Road and Ngong Road and other city roads stranded at matatu termini, while others boarded boda bodas which made booming business.

“Even though we are suffering as a result of lack of matatus, we are in full support of the police because without the crackdowns, there will be impunity on our roads,” Robert Nderitu, a passenger who was stranded on Ngong Road said.

Most matatus were parked at fuel stations and at shopping centers, for fear of being detained by the traffic police who on Tuesday announced their plans to carry out a massive crackdown.

Nairobi Area deputy Traffic Commandant Leonard Katana told Capital News that more than 400 vehicles had been detained and over 100 drivers and conductors arrested during Wednesday’s crackdown.

The clean-up mainly targeted vehicles which were found to have flouted traffic regulations which include lack of safety belts and speed governors among others.

Most of the vehicles detained on Wednesday were found to have tampered with speed governors which limit them to a maximum speed of 80 Kilometers per hour while others did not have them at all.

“We are also targeting vehicles which play loud music and have reflective materials on windows,” Mr Katana said. He said vehicles detained will not be released to owners unless the anomalies are corrected.

Deputy Police Spokesman Charles Wahong’o told Capital News the crackdown would be extended to other parts of the country in the coming weeks to help curb increased accident rates which have claimed nearly 1,300 people since January.


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