Matatu operators yesterday blinked first in the eyeball to eyeball standoff to break the impunity on Kenyan roads.
The main players in a critical sector that has been hijacked by blood-sucking cartels and is now impunity personified, in a dramatic climbdown bowed to efforts by the government— and the long-suffering citizens—and called off an ill-advised strike and apologised for the misery they had caused commuters yesterday.
But they ate humble pie after realising the country was firmly standing with Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i and his Transport counterpart James Macharia in ensuring compliance with the Michuki rules aimed at restoring sanity in the transport sector.
Whatever bout of wisdom hit them to call off the strike, which had paralysed the sector and left thousands stranded, is a move in the right direction.
Hopefully, the government will not let this opportunity to end the anarchy synonymous with the sector slip through its fingers. It must put in place firm policy and guidelines to streamline its operations and create an enabling environment—a win-win setting for both commuters and investors.
Matiang’i, the chief enforcer of the rules outlined by his Transport colleague, must never let the cartels in this critical sector, which employs thousand of youth and drives the economy, to hold the government and public to ransom. Ever again!
This has been a free for all sector which has defied attempts both to regulate and to self-regulate. It is ironical that matatu sector, which should ideally survive on the goodwill of clients by embracing order and civility, terrorises them! Paradoxically, the public through ignorance also assists in terror against itself.
Why is so difficult to respect the basic requirements of for instance, fitting vehicles with speed governors and seat belts and ensure conductors and drivers wear uniform and display PSV badges?
Kudos to those who have obeyed the rules and are back to work. However, they must not take advantage of this to increases fares as has been widely reported.
In the same breath, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet must also discipline his team, which is often accused of being complicit to the mayhem on roads, to ensure compliance of the Michuki rules for the sake of the country. On their part, Kenyans have shown they are ready to support the government to rein in matatu terror.