Commuters pay the price as rogue matatus keep off roads


Commuters stranded at a bus stage on Ngong Road as public service vehicles kept off the roads on November 5, 2018. Police have started enforcing the dreaded 'Michuki rules' that require vehicles to have speed governors and safety belts, among other things. PHOTO | COLLINS OMULO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


  • Crackdown on rogue matatus was announced last month but was to be effected from November 12.

Scores of passengers were stranded in various parts of Nairobi County and its environs as many matatus kept off the roads fearing an ongoing police crackdown.

And for the few that were available, the fares have been hiked on some of the routes as traffic police officers enforced the much-dreaded 'Michuki rules' in a bid to curb rising road deaths.

Last month, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his Interior counterpart Fred Matiang'i announced the return of the rules and gave matatu operators up to November 12, to comply.

The road traffic regulations were published in a Kenya Gazette notice in September 2003 by the then minister of Transport, the late John Michuki.

The highlights were that every public service vehicle (PSV) must be fitted with a speed governor that capped speed at 80 kilometres per hour, have seatbelts for all passengers, and have a defined passenger capacity to prevent overloading. They also required drivers to display their photo prominently in the matatu to curb “squad” driving, and made it mandatory for PSVs to have a yellow strip on its body.

Traffic updates by Ma3Route, a mobile, web and SMS traffic information platform, said there are few matatus on Outer Ring Road and fare had been increased. 

"The situation is bad people are stranded [because of] Michuki [rules]....[Vehicles dropping off passengers at Cabanas],” read another tweet on the situation on Mombasa Road.

'Walking nation'

“It’s a walking nation on Waiyaki Way. Many passengers stranded on the various stages. Others decided to walk [to work],” read another tweet. 

It was the same situation on Ngong Road as commuters were stranded over shortage of matatus. The vehicles that were available had doubled fares.

The fares are normally between Sh70 and Sh100, depending on the time, but they were charging between Sh150 and Sh200 as traffic police officers started the crackdown on vehicles not complying with rules. 

Some private vehicles took advantage of the situation and ferried passengers to town.

In Kasarani, only one operator — Mwiki Sacco Limited — was operating in the early morning and the vehicles were charging between Sh150 and Sh200 to the Nairobi city centre.

The matatus were also not entering the city centre, instead dropping off passengers at Ngara.

There was heavy traffic on Thika Road as people opted to use their private vehicles.