Activities at the Machakos Bus Park are slowly returning to normal several hours after Matatu operators called off their nationwide strike.
A spot check by KNA has established that most PSV operators are back in business after having pulled out their vehicles from the roads in protest to a nationwide crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles by the government.
Yesterday, commuters who were lucky to get transport were forced to part with as much as Sh. 500 to Sh. 300 for a one way trip to Nairobi, instead of the normal fare of Sh.150 and Sh. 200.
Scores of passengers at the busy stage had to cancel their journeys yesterday after failing to get means of transport to their destinations.
However, even as normalcy is slowly creeping back, some rogue conductors have taken advantage of the situation by hiking fares even on short distances.
For instance, Erastus Mulwa, a resident of Tala who works in Machakos said he has been forced to pay Sh.300 up from the normal fare of Sh. 200.
He said he had no option but to part with the hiked fare, as his work entails travelling to Machakos town on a daily basis.
But according to Peter Wambua, an official who works with Makos Sacco which plies between the Nairobi-Machakos and Makueni route, the move by Government to enact the traffic rules, famously known as Michuki rules is like priceless balm to the chaotic Matatu industry.
He said the rules which were first introduced by the late Transport Minister, John Michuki in 2003 will ensure PSV drivers and their conductors are keen when ferrying passengers to their various destinations.
“These traffic rules are meant for the good of us all.Consequently, all PSV operators should embrace the government’s gesture and adhere with the traffic rules, to avoid further loss of lives on our roads through reckless driving,” he said.
He said all vehicles registered under Makos have already complied with the new rules and is now calling upon other Saccos to follow suit.
But for others like KalamuKivindyo, an official with Nakisa Sacco, the one month notice the government gave the PSV operators was too short a time to comply with all the requirements.
He says the government should have extended the period to ensure Matatu owners and operators get ample time to fix the required gadgets, such as fixing seat belts and speed governors.
Meanwhile, Police in Machakos have arrested a total of 80 traffic offenders and confiscated 27 vehicles, including 15 probox cars for flouting traffic rules.
A total of 35 motorcycles have also been impounded in the operation which is being carried out in the entire county’s roads.
According to Machakos OCPD, Joseph Tenai, the suspects have already been arraigned in court, charged with various traffic offences and paid fines ranging from Sh. 500 and Sh. 10,000.
The worst road accident this year took place at Fort Ternan in Kericho County on Moi Day where 58 passengers aboard a Home Boyz Sacco bus perished after the driver lost control of the bus.
Kenya loses at least 3,000 people on her roads every year making her among the leading countries in the world with the highest highway carnage.
By Samuel Maina/Robert Matheka