, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – Passengers who board or disembark from public service vehicles (PSVs) at undesignated bus stops will now face a fine of between Sh10,000 and Sh15,000 or a prison sentence of six months.
Operators of Matatus will also be liable to the same sentences for having tinted windows or windscreens and picking and dropping of passengers at undesignated stops. Transport Minister Chirau Mwakwere announced the amendments to the Transport Act in Parliament on Wednesday in a bid “to reduce the increasing rate of road accidents in the country and restore sanity in the transport sector ahead of the festive season.”
“Many fatal accidents occur when public service vehicles pick or drop passengers at non-designated points,” he said adding that the ‘matatu madness’ was more prominent in Nairobi and Mombasa.
“In order to enhance the safety of passengers in PSVs, it is necessary for law enforcement officers to easily see the inside of these vehicles,” Mr Mwakwere said in reference to the ban of tinted windows.
In a gazette notice dated December 2, the Minister has also made it mandatory for both boda boda (motorbike) riders and their passengers to wear helmets and a jacket with a reflector. Riders will also be required to acquire valid driving licenses. Operators who contravene these rules will be liable to a fine of Sh5,000 or a three-month jail term.
“These rules will be enforced strictly. If anybody wants to try me let him ride a motorcycle with no helmet,” he warned regretting that the boda boda’s are the highest causes of accidents in the country.
Still in Parliament, the government assured that Kenya is secure despite the confiscation of assorted military weaponry from a businessman in Narok town on Tuesday. Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode told the House that the government had heightened investigations into the matter to get to its roots.
Mr Ojode is scheduled to brief Parliament on the progress of the investigation on Thursday afternoon.
“I would request the Chair to allow me arrest some two more suspects today (Wednesday) and let me give this statement tomorrow,” he said.
Narok South MP Lankas Ole Nkoidila had demanded the statement from the Minister expressing concerns that fear had gripped the area following the seizure.
“There is a lot of anxiety in this matter and we should not allow any delays. Even preliminary information can help ease the fear and tension,” he said.
At least 80,000 bullets and other assorted military weaponry which included guns, sleeping bags, military knives, boots and camouflage uniforms were nabbed by the police. Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere said on Tuesday that the assortment could have been on transit to another country. Two suspects were arrested and are helping police with investigations.
As he spoke in Parliament, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Narok town to protest against what they described as a security lapse over the arms cache.
The protesters who were led by councillors Lydia Ntimama and Chris Kamoye marched to the District Commissioners office where they accused the district security team of laxity and expressed fear of rising crime in the town and its environs.
They wondered who so many arms ended up in such a small town.
The weaponry was described Police Commissioner Matthew Iteere as the biggest consignment found in civilian hands in Kenya\’s history.
“How could Nairobi police come to unearth deadly weapons when we have local police?” posed Ms Ntimama.
Area police chief Charles Okweya however defended the local police saying they were part of the operation from the word go.
“We planned the operation for a long time and we knew exactly when to attack. That is why we did not miss the target,” said Mr Okweya adding that a joint force of twenty officers took part in the raid.
He sought to assure tourists travelling to and from the Maasai Mara national reserve that their security was intact.