Long Walk to Work as Matatus Strike

Thousands of commuters yesterday walked long distances after most matatu operators stayed off the roads to protest against the enforcement of Michuki rules.

The few PSV operators on the roads hiked fares. Some commuters cancelled their trips, while others opted to use taxis and boda-bodas, which charged higher fares. Private cars made a killing as they became the last resort for stranded and desperate commuters.

In Nairobi, some residents said they walked as long as 17km to their places of work. “I am walking because I don’t have Sh400 to pay from Githurai to the CBD,” Susan Wanjiku, from Roysambu, said.

At the Githurai 45 stage, there was a crowd waiting for PSVs. They scrambled for the few vehicles that arrived, despite the fares having been hike five-fold.

At 7 am yesterday, Githurai residents were required to pay Sh400, up from about Sh70 to the CBD. The fares dropped to Sh200 at 9 am instead of the normal Sh50 and Sh80 instead of Sh30 at 11 am.

“I have been here since 7 am waiting for fares to reduce to at least Sh100 because that is the amount I have. But the people here are many and they are paying whatever amount the crew says,” Fred Mwangi said.

PSVs were parked at petrol stations and other open spaces in Githurai. Though inconvenienced by the crackdown, many residents welcomed the move, saying it will reduce road crashes.

In Baba Dogo, residents paid Sh100 instead of the usual Sh50 to Ngara. Those going to Nairobi paid Sh150 from Sh70. At least 13 PSVs were parked at the Baba Dogo stage.

In Buru Buru and Umoja estates, there were no PSVs at the stages when the Star visited at 9.30am. There was a big crowd waiting for the vehicles to get to work. When a KBS bus arrived, only the strongest found their way in.

Police at Buru Buru station had not launched the crackdown at noon yesterday with commander Fredrick Maingi saying they would swing into action at an “appropriate time”.

Wayiaki Way, Langata Road and Mombasa were all turned into walkways. On Wayiaki Way, the few PSVs that were on roads charged Sh100 from Kangemi to Westlands and the CBD. Usually, residents pay Sh20. Those residing in Rongai paid Sh250 to Nairobi.

Stranded

In Meru, many matatus and taxis stayed away from the roads with business booming for mechanics. Matatus flocked to garages to instal safety belts, speed governers and make other changes to comply with the new rules.

There was a handful of PSVs on the roads. They increased fares with those travelling from Meru to Nairobi parting with Sh300 more than the usual fare. Fares from Meru-Maua increased from Sh200 to Sh250.

The NTSA and traffic officers combed the town and its environs. As early as 6 am, police had laid several barriers on key roads leading to town.

The NTSA upper Eastern regional manager, Joseph Gichuhi, said they were ensuring the compliance of every vehicle passing through Meru.

In Kilifi and Tana River counties, thousands of commuters were stranded for the better part of the day as police launched a crackdown as early as 5 am. Police mounted roadblocks. Many residents said the crackdown had inconvenienced them. Terressia Mwangi, who was heading to Mpeketoni from Malindi, said she was stranded after a Probox she had boarded was impounded near Sabaki Bridge.

It’s now difficult to go to Mpeketoni. We will have to go back to Malindi as there is no place to sleep we don’t know what to do,’’ she said.

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