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Matatu owners are determined to get an extension to Monday’s deadline to fit speed limiters and meet a raft of other requirements.
Matatu owners are determined to get an extension to Monday’s deadline to fit speed limiters and meet a raft of other requirements.

Matatu Welfare Association Chairman Dickson Mbugua on Saturday said they would go to the High Court tomorrow to ask for an extension.

Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai says they should be given a leeway.

The new rules by the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure come into effect on Tuesday.

They require matatus to be run by Saccos, their owners to pay their drivers a monthly basic salary and long distance owners to have a fleet management system that records and stores data about the vehicle’s speed and location.

Speaking to the Sunday Nation, Mr Kimutai said that the matatu industry had a problem with regard to the speed governors. He explained that manufacturers had 60 days to research on and develop the new gadgets with specifications to fit the new rules.

According to Mr Kimutai, there are only around 3,000 units available to matatu owners by Friday, and that was only four weeks ago when the association, which has over 5,000 members, started receiving the gadgets.

Short supply

But even then, he said they have been getting them “in bits” of about 500 a day. Besides, even after the devices got here, they had to request an engineer to train their people on how to use them.

And Mr Kimutai feels the government should help. “They should give leeway because people are willing to do it [comply with the rules]. We want to give the speed governors but where are they?”
Mr Mbugua cited the need for more speed governors, the rise in their prices and the expiration of provision of TLB licences as examples, among other grievances.

“The speed governors are in short supply,” he said. “Some dealers have increased their prices to Sh50,000.”
Mr Mbugua was yesterday quoted saying the government recommended price is Sh18,000.

He accused the Transport Ministry of arbitrarily deciding that the issuance of Transport Licensing Board licenses will end tomorrow. National Transport and Safety Authority chairman Lee Kinyanjui said complaints over the shortage of speed governors have come about because matatu owners did not respond to deadlines in time.

“They did not start installing them when it was agreed. Very few of them bought them and they thought they would have the deadline changed,” said Mr Kinyanjui.
“But even if it is postponed,” he added, “they will not do anything.”

Mr Kinyanjui said that the new rules are not about speed governors only. The government, he said, intends to place public transport under a disciplined regime which includes vetting of owners and building of cargo racks in a prescribed manner. “What have those got to do with any gadget?” he said.

He wondered how matatu owners had been unable to import speed governors considering they are available in different countries.
“In what part of the world could they not have imported them from?”

For him, the journey to a reformed transport system does not take one day. He warned that if anyone is caught going against the rules from April 1, they will pay dearly.
Kenya is one of the countries with the worst road safety records in the world.
The World Health Organisation says that between 3,000 and 13,000 Kenyans lose their lives in road accidents every year. Nearly one-third of the deaths are of passengers, many of whom are killed in unsafe public transport vehicles.

The new traffic rules are part of the government’s determination to lower the deaths.
According to Mr Kinyanjui, the introduction of Alcoblow has reduced road accidents in a big way but he did not have exact figures because “Alcoblow use is part of many related initiatives”.

The new rules, he said, would make that impact greater. The NTSA chairman said matatu owners should comply with the law and stick to the scheduled programme since “the date was even suggested by them.”

On the other hand, Mr Mbugua, whose organisation has 30,000 members, argued that the transport system cannot be turned overnight into a world class one.
He expressed optimism that Transport Cabinet Secretary Michael Kamau “would see sense” and extend the deadline by three or six months.