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Meru 14 Seater Operators Leak about the Authorities.

02 April 2012, 14:15 Tony Ndungu Karomo

The 14 seater matatus operators in Meru town have demanded an explanation as to why Michuki rules are being discriminatively imposed on them contrary to the stipulated regulations and guidelines referring to all Passengers Service Vehicles in the country.

They operators opposed the smaller cars which are meant for personal services swarming the town and taking up the duties which the 14 seater is endowed to without presenting the essentials of the Michuki rules.

James Kinoti Mwirigi who is a member of the powerful MENANY Sacco (Meru-Nanyuki-Nyeri route) said that the rules have been violated for a long time in the town and no predetermined actions have been taken by the answerable authorities causing short comings that will soon force the 14 seaters to be unceremoniously wiped from the business.

“These cars which cannot be distinguished to be private or public have been picking and dropping passengers anywhere in the town where no stage was ever demarcated. They carry up to 12 people instead of the average 7, and still get away with it in presence of the aware authorities” He said.

Digging deeper in his meaning, he revealed that the cars have been dipping colors in honor of some ‘authorities’(withheld)who have been receiving weekly payments from them to uphold their faulty operations. He said that every car pays a fee of 300 Kshs every week to operate wherever in the town and its outskirts without limits or fear of overloading.

He said that when they consult the car operators for meetings to resolve the issue, they decline and shout to them that they cannot eradicate them because they have the authorities ‘in their pockets’.

In a meeting with the Transport Licensing Board 2 weeks earlier, Mwirigi said that he secured an audience who bombarded the board with unending questions regarding the lesser cars which hold private insurance on their windscreens’ but  operate in the Public service sector.

Mwirigi added that when the cars have been found faulty in the presence of aware public, they are arrested only to be released in a matter of few hours when the din has settled. “I talked with one policeman when he released a car but he told me that orders from above have directed the release. Further querying would lead my 14seater business to a pitfall”.

The members revealed how some big shots in the authorities’ articulated transport in the area by issuing non-existent dropping bases where their businesses including hotels and malls were located to scoop customers and increase their business income ‘abnormally’.

One Kenneth Kimathi said that the traffic authorities have been giving away the law instead of imposing it in their duties; only stopping the 14seaters for checking on the road but letting the lesser cars pass without interest of scrutiny. “We have opted to transfer passengers from our vehicles to the lesser ones whenever we see traffic police in front because they never scrutinize them, and when they do, they do it quick and short”.

One member who requested withholding of names said that the cars have been a tool in the increase of crime in the county because they have no proper identification to be public making it easy for criminals to travel in them without exposure.

In a recent murder case of a Meru School teacher who was shot on her way home, these smaller cars have been greatly accosted since the murderer is believed to be travelling in a similar car identified only as a Probox. 

In an attempt to speak with one operator of the small car, other drivers warned him against saying a word, saying loudly that the media would ruin their rendezvous with the authorities and force them to go for coffee farming.

The most affected routes are Meru-Mikinduri, Meru-Thimangiri, Meru-Kiirua and Meru-Ruiri routes where it is estimated that 98%percent of the passenger vehicles are privately insured.

The 14 seater operators called upon the Minister of transport to up tighten the rules, instead of ‘commenting on the rules when fatal accident occurs’, one member could be heard. They added that the will lay down their tools and get out of the business, this meant to be a threat to the town council which they said is the sole creator of the whole maze.

“For one 14seater, it fully operates after spending Kshs 10, 080 on it besides other maintenance fee, which has proved hard to recover. If we overload, we are taken seriously besides risking lives, but the smaller cars never experience our plight”.

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