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Thika road matatus strike over terror charges

A passenger is said to have left a bag in this bus which later exploded on Thika Road on Sunday. Photo/FILE

A passenger is said to have left a bag in this bus which later exploded on Thika Road on Sunday. Photo/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 7 – Commuters on the Githurai 45 route were on Wednesday morning stranded as the Public Service Vehicle operators went on strike to protest the arrest and prosecution of their colleagues who were accused of failing to screen passengers in buses involved in Sunday’s explosion on Thika Superhighway.

A few of them told Capital FM News that they had waited for more than two hours at the bus stage and PSVs from other routes took advantage of the situation by charging Sh100 up from Sh30.

Others hiked lifts from private cars with some of them bundling themselves in pickup trucks as they sought to reach their destination.

“If those arrested could be released this once as a warning so that now they become more vigilant that would solve this whole problem,” Billy Otieno one of the commuters said. “I have been here from 8.30am I was supposed to go to work but this has become impossible since these vehicles have gone on strike.”

“Even if these people go on strike, we will still go to work; the important thing is that they do not go ahead and block the roads. If they do this, then we can go about our normal businesses,” Phyllis Mwikali another stranded commuter stated.

The owner of one of the buses bombed on Sunday, Githini Gathu stated that he is yet to understand why his crew members were arraigned in court.

“Even if they go to court, they should be charged with something that they understand. They were not aware of what was going on then. There has also been no proper investigations conducted as to the incident and so you cannot know what exactly happened whether the grenades were in the vehicle or outside,” he said.

Ruiru legislator Esther Gathogo also emphasised the need for a thorough sensitisation exercise on security to be undertaken to educate PSV operators on how to go about screening and detecting suspicious people and items as they pick up passengers.

“It is good that we sit down and consult so that we come up with a solution. You know these people are living from hand to mouth but there is still need for an education exercise to be undertaken so that they can take security very seriously,” she stated.

Githurai Kimbo police station boss Samuel Otongo also urged all operators to maintain their calm as the matter was being sorted out.

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“I would like to urge all the drivers and conductors not to cause chaos. As you have seen, the issue is being handled and I would request them to be patient because we do not want anybody to be killed because of what is going on,” he said.

The Director of Public Prosecutions Keriako Tobiko has in the meantime called for the police file on the case to determine the validity of the charges.

The two drivers and three conductors of the two buses were charged for failing to search their passengers before letting them board, thus exposing them to danger.

Three people died and over 50 others ere injured when improvised explosive devices went off in the Githurai and Mwiki bound buses near Homeland Inn and Thika Road Mall respectively.


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