, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 18 – The Association of Matatu Owners has said that all Public Service Vehicles (PSV) already have the anti-rolling body bars in place responding to a proposal by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) that PSV’s to install the bars to prevent breakup in case of an accident by May.
NTSA Director-General Francis Meja told a parliamentary committee that the move is aimed at ensuring that in case of an accident, vehicles that roll will maintain their shape, keeping passengers who have their safety belts on safe from major injuries.
Speaking in Nairobi in a meeting that brought together members of the association to discuss their grievances, the spokesman John Methu urged the Parliamentary Transport and Public Works Committee to involve all stakeholders to avoid blame game noting that NTSA may not be aware of the reality on the ground.
“Who told NTSA that PSV’s don’t have the anti-rolling bars?” he asked urging the committee to involve all stakeholders so that they don’t “take lies from NTSA.”
He wondered how the committee sat to talk about the industry which falls under them yet they were not summoned to give their side of the story.
“They should call us instead of sitting in Parliament and making decisions that will affect us without our input,” he retorted.
Night travel ban
The chairman of the association Jamal Ibrahim also called on the government to review the night travel ban immediately saying their businesses are being hurt even as they decried the many knee-jerk reactions taken by different government bodies whenever there is a crisis.
“Banks are on our necks demanding their money. The huge chunk of profit we used to make came from night travel,” he said adding that “my members are complaining everywhere.”
Methu, however, blamed a culture of blame game as the reason why accident continues to occur yet nobody has managed to diagnose the problem correctly.
“We react so fast when issues happen without first sitting down to review why they happen,” he said. “We have a problem in this country because we always want to blame each other instead of looking for solutions.”
Following rampant cases of indiscipline on the roads by Matatu touts and drivers, Methu urged the Police to treat rogue operators as criminals to face the full force of the law following the unfortunate incident where the touts and drivers of Zuri Genesis Sacco and Marimba Investment Sacco allegedly beat Joseph Ng’ethe Kiarie to death on Thika road on Christmas Eve.
“We are glad that they were arrested and arraigned in Court. Let them face the full force of the law because those are matatu criminals,” he said.
He was stern that their members do not condone indiscipline and urged the authorities to smoke out criminals masquerading as touts in the matatu industry committing that the association will embark on culture change to orient their members to adopt customer service friendly methods when dealing with challenges in the industry.
“I believe that anyone can change,” he said. “The association will soon launch a retraining of our operators and those who won’t change will be fired,” he added.
He was speaking when the association met different stakeholders including Nairobi county officials, the Nairobi Metropolitan Area Transport Authority and their members to chart the way forward in light of new challenges in the business.
Decongestion of Nairobi
They also pleaded with Nairobi county government to give them until April noting they have already put mechanisms in place including looking for additional parking to sort the congestion mess.
Jamal Ibrahim said the association isn’t against a sane transport industry but lamented at how the measures are implemented.
“We want to ask the able Nairobi governor Mike Mbuvi Sonko to give us till April to sort out the congestion mess,” he said.
“We are talking to Railways and Jamia grounds to look for extra space, these efforts will soon bear fruit.”
Methu also revealed that the association will soon go cashless as they shop for technology to tame rogue operators on the road accusing the police officers exacerbating the problem by condoning wrongs so that they can get a bribe from the conductors and drivers.
“We will beat these challenges with technology. Soon, we will go cashless,” he pointed out.
He also called on the government to treat their members with respect saying they contribute to the country’s industry just like other businessmen.
“We are also human beings. Treating matatu operators like some street children is not right. We are just like other businesspeople in this city. We don’t sell bhang. We deserve to be respected,” he concluded.