Sometimes back, a friend recounted with glee an incident where he and other passengers momentarily halted their journey from Juja to Nairobi after an insolent crew of the matatu they were travelling in mishandled one of them.
In one voice, they decried the act before alighting en masee at the next stop to the shock of the crew.
This account came to my mind in the wake of myriad reports that have been in the news of the sad and unfortunate harassment ordeals innocent passengers have been undergoing through in the hands of matatu crews.
Towards the end of last year, two crew members of a Githurai-bound matatu were handed a life imprisonment sentence after they were found guilty of stripping a woman. The sentence was celebrated by many Kenyans, especially on social media.
Recently, a three-year-old boy sustained serious injuries after he was allegedly pushed out of a moving matatu by a conductor.
As we speak, a family is mourning the death of their loved one who allegedly died in the hands of a cruel matatu crew after a minor accident.
One of the dailies published yet another story of a middle aged woman who is living in agony after an unknown person, suspected to have connived with a matatu crew, injected her with an unknown drug while seated in the matatu.
These epitomise the animosity meted out either by some matatu crew or criminals conniving with crooked matatu crew on passengers.
There are various measures which if the concerned parties took into account, could mark an end to these horrible incidences. Registration numbers of public service vehicles, for instance, should be conspicuously marked from the inside of the vehicles for ease of identification.
It is quite a challenge to report, say a speeding driver of the vehicle one boarded, because the registration number is only on the outside thereby impeding any efforts to give the vehicle’s ID in case a need arise.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Traffic Department also need to come up with hotline numbers through which passengers can report uncouth behaviour in real time.
Passengers, who bear the brunt of reckless driving, have an even bigger role to play in not only putting an end to passenger-harassment by some matatu crews but also beefing up the fight against reckless driving, which is responsible for horrible carnage that has thrown many families into mourning especially in the just ended festive season.
If passengers speak up against harassment, like my friend and fellow passengers did, and openly condemn reckless driving, we will certainly annihilate the menace at hand right now.
Kimani Gatiba, Kiambu