NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 16 – Matatu owners and crews have rejected Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s directive last week lifting the mandatory requirement that public service vehicle operators wear uniforms while on duty.
The PM had lifted the section of the famous Michuki Rules after the crews staged demonstrations complaining that traffic and city by-laws enforcers were harassing and extorting money from conductors and drivers.
The Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairman Dickson Mbugua said the prime minister was mis-advised to issue the order on Thursday after he went to talk to the protesting matatu drivers and conductors.
“When the crowd said they wanted the council askaris to have uniforms, he felt that the people where complaining about wearing a uniform and that is why he issued the directive,” he stated. “We, however, corrected him later on and we gave him the right version on Friday.”
Mbugua told Capital FM News that should the directive be allowed, then it would pave way for anarchy in the PSV sector.
“No matatu crews, conductor and driver are supposed to be working without uniform. It is law and there is no way that law can just be wished away. That is the bit we corrected and in fact, the following day the crew picked up and most of them were in uniform,” he explained.
His sentiments were echoed by the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) Chairman Simon Kimutai who urged politicians to desist from making road side declarations for their own benefits.
“There is the law and then there are those roadside directives. What I would urge my members is let us stick to the law. If anyone wants to give us a change, let it be in the books so that it can be interpreted easily. We have heard before of such directives from politicians that you should not put on uniforms and then later on after the campaigns they change tact,” he said.
“If any politician is serious about changing the law, let them change the law than just verbal outbursts that is expected to win them votes.”
A nine-member taskforce has in the meantime been put in place to deal with issues affecting the Public Service Vehicle sector and find solutions to them.
The MWA Chairman said its members who are drawn from public service vehicle groups, the city council of Nairobi and the police will be dealing with harassment claims.
“The local askaris from the city inspectorate most of the time would want to enforce the law without wearing uniform. That was one of the major complaints and we resolved that by stating that no one will be able to go to the field without wearing uniform,” he pointed out.
He stated that private breakdown vehicles will not be allowed to conduct their business while interfering with operations of PSVs.
“The other issue is towing vehicles using private breakdowns which are incidentally owned by the same people at City Hall and we do not want to have a situation where we are creating business for these people,” he said.