NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 16 – Nearly 500 Public Service Vehicles were impounded in a countrywide crackdown launched on Wednesday following a directive by Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere.
The crackdown which was conducted in all parts of the country mainly targeted vehicles which had no safety belts, speed governors and those with loud music among others.
It inconvenienced thousands of passengers, with many forced to trek back home or to their places of work, particularly in Nairobi and other major towns. Some matatu owners opted to withdraw their vehicles for fear of being arrested while others hurried to garages to fix their vehicles.
A spot-check by Capital News revealed that dozens of vehicles were parked at fuel stations and at markets as traffic police continued the crackdown.
Traffic Commandant Aggrey Adoli told Capital News that all commanders in the country were under instructions to carry out thorough checks on the roads to impound unroadworthy vehicles and arrest the operators.
“We are implementing all the traffic regulations, they are very clear and are well known to the operators and even passengers who have ignored them for a long time now,” he said.
On Tuesday, Mr Iteere announced that he had empowered the traffic department to carry out their mandate “without any form of interference” and vowed to support them fully in their work.
In Nairobi, Deputy Traffic Commandant Leonard Katana told journalists that his officers had netted nearly 200 vehicles and more than 100 drivers and conductors arrested.
“We are not sparing anybody, this is a crackdown aimed at restoring sanity on our roads and it has to go on. We know it will inconvenience the public but there is nothing we can do about it,” he said.
Traffic police officers carried out the impromptu checks on major highways and in the city centre where unroadworthy vehicles were flagged down and towed or driven to the Nairobi Area Traffic headquarters for inspection.
Personnel from the Government Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit spent the better part of the day at the Traffic headquarters carrying out inspections on the vehicles netted.
“We have inspected them (vehicles) and most of them are not even supposed to be on the roads. They do not comply at all with the regulations,” a senior officer from the Motor vehicle Inspection Unit told Capital News.
Some vehicles were found to have tampered with the speed governors while others did not even have them.
Mr Katana said most of the vehicles netted would have their number plates plucked out and returned to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) until owners comply with the rules.
“Once the number plates are removed, they will have to go get them from KRA, they will have to pay fines and the operators will face relevant charges in court to serve as a lesson to others,” he said.
Mr Adoli said over 100 public service vehicles had been netted in Nyeri and Nakuru and others in other towns.
In Mombasa, he said some 97 public service vehicles had been netted as at 4 pm “though the crackdown is still going on.”
“There is no end to this (crackdown). We are under instructions from the commissioner of police and the work will go on. We are not going to relent on this,” Mr Adoli said.
On the Nairobi-Nakuru highway and Nairobi-Mombasa highway, Mr Adoli said impromptu road blocks had been mounted to ensure passengers safety.
“Vehicles carrying excess passengers are also in trouble because we are not going to spare them. That is why we are urging the public to be prepared to face the consequences whenever they board overloaded matatus or those without seatbelts,” he said.