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City matatu crews protest assault on colleague

NAIROBI,  Kenya, Sep 6 – Public transport was disrupted on Tuesday morning as operators of Public Service Vehicles serving Lang’ata, South B, South C and Highrise estates staged a sit-in at the matatu terminus protesting harassment by police officers.

The crew of matatu drivers and conductors were incensed by an early morning incident in which plainclothes police officers are alleged to have beaten up a driver who protested the arrest of his conductor at the Central Police Station.

“He even lost some of his teeth,” said Douglas Mureithi a visibly angered tout.

“If someone is suspected to have broken the law why should he be assaulted by police?” wondered Mr Mureithi.

They accused the police of habitually arresting matatu crew for no legitimate reason and later demanding money ranging from Sh500 as a bribe to release them.

“We want to know if Kamukunji police station is a government institution or a private venture.  A person is just picked here at the terminus and taken to Kamukunji police station and will not be released until he bribes the officers,” said Mr Mureithi.

Nairobi’s Deputy Police chief Moses Ombati who listened to their grievances said action would be taken against police officers caught in such incidences.

“I will proceed from here to see the driver and try to find out the circumstances surrounding his arrest and what transpired during his arrest.  If he is an innocent man he will be set free,” he said.

Mr Ombati also assured that action would be taken against the officers if they are found culpable.

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The operators further accused the police of colluding with Nairobi City Council officers to switch off the security lights at the bus terminus to create an enabling environment of the police and council officers to harass matatu crew at night.

The operators ended their strike and returned to business after the two-hour meeting with the police and the chairman of the Matatu Welfare Association Dickson Mbugua

Mr Mbugua said that the Matatu Welfare Association would evaluate the response of the police to the plight of the operators for one week at the situation at the terminus was not encouraging for the business.


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