Cracks emerge over matatu strike threat

December 9, 2011 2:37 pm

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 9 – The Matatu Owners Association (MOA) has declared that it will not participate in the strike organised by the umbrella trade unions body COTU and the Matatu Welfare Association scheduled for December 19.

MOA Chairman Simon Kimutai has said that it is the season for the investors in the industry to make money and that the strike will not be beneficial for them.

Kimutai said: “We do not want to go into the old ways of solving problems by subjecting Kenyans to pain and suffering. MOA will not take part in the strike. MOA will not be driven by the excitement of unionists who do not know how the matatu industry operates.”

Kimutai said that fares will be reviewed upwards due to the high demand of transport services in the festive season but urged operators to effect reasonable adjustments.

“We in the industry must make money; we are not a charitable organization! Passengers must understand that when demand outweighs supply then there will be adjustments to benefit the suppliers,” he stated.

Kimutai has called on passengers to be proactive in helping reduce accidents during the festive season by ensuring that their rights are respected.

Drivers as well have been advised to adhere to all traffic regulations as well as avoid driving in areas they are not familiar with and fatigue in the search for money

“We want people to adhere to labor rules and work for eight hours; God was very clever when he created day and night for work and sleep respectively,” he emphasised.

On Tuesday COTU together with the Matatu Welfare Association announced that they will lead a nationwide workers strike starting the December 19 if fuel prices are not reduced by 30 percent.

COTU Secretary General Francis Atwoli said: “The rising cost of living is responsible for the rising cases of workers striking coupled with the ineptness of some government officials and arrogant ministers refusing to negotiate.”

“COTU is not out to incite workers but we will lead them to a strike beginning the 19th; no public service vehicle will be on the roads and no worker will leave his house,” declared Atwoli.

He had been flanked by Matatu Welfare Association Chairman Dickson Mbugua who said that matatu owners would paralyse transport services, a move that will complicate traveling during the festive season.

Mbugua had said that the association will no longer increase matatu and bus fares but hold out for a long term solution.

Despite these exchanges Kenyan motorists can for the first time in 12 months expect reprieve at the pump stations with the announcement of a Sh3 to Sh5 per litre drop in fuel prices next week.

Initial estimates by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) show that the prices, which will be announced on December 14, will come down by these margins.

“The Energy Regulatory Commission is finalising the computation of the pump prices and preliminary estimates show that the fuel prices will come down by between Sh3 and Sh5 per litre from December 15, 2011,” said Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike.

Fuel prices have been edging upwards from January 2011, with a litre of petrol going up by approximately Sh30 within the period.

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