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Nairobi Pulls Together During Matatu Vehicle Strike

On Thursday 29 November, 2012, most Nairobi city dwellers woke up to face another day only to be confronted by the harsh reality of the public service transport system going rogue.

The Kenyan public service vehicles popularly known as matatus were demonstrating against the latest Traffic Amendment 2012, which has introduced stiff penalties for both first time and repeat offenders and affects Kenyan motorists across the board.

Traffic Snarl-up in a Nairobi Street caused by Public Service strike - Image courtesy of @PossumBlu & @ktnkenya

Traffic Snarl-up in a Nairobi Street caused by Public Service strike – Image courtesy of @PossumBlu & @ktnkenya

Online reactions

A couple of bloggers have given a summary of the amended laws and penalties that were approved by the President (Mwai Kibaki) in early November.

Word of Mouth blog posted:

Here is a summary of the new traffic rules caused by the Amendment of section 12 of Cap 403 of the laws of Kenya. The president signed the amendments yesterday meaning they are in operation from today.

  1. Number plates: When you sell your vehicle, you should surrender the number plates to the registrar of motor vehicles. Remember to surrender the number plates to the registrar otherwise you risk being arrested and fined
  2. Overlapping, undertaking, obstruction, driving on pavement or through a petrol station to avoid traffic: You risk a fine of Kshs 100,000 -300,000 or  one year in jail or BOTH
  3. Over speeding:  When you over speed, you risk a fine of Kshs 10,000 or 3 months imprisonment or both
  4. Careless Driving: Penalty of Ksh 500,000 or 10 years imprisonment or both
  5. Careless driving causing death: Life Imprisonment. This is being treated like murder.
  6. Driving under influence of alcohol: A fine of Ksh 500, 000 or ten years in jail or both.
  7. PSV Operators: Should adhere to the uniforms and badges rules
  8. Motor Cycle operators: ONE PASSENGER only and the passenger and rider must be in reflective vests and helmets – otherwise you risk a fine of Kshs 10,000 and in default 12 months imprisonment.

Autoportal, another blogger focusing on motoring, had a few sections of the Law too:

 ➢ The licence of a person found guilty of exceeding speed limits would be invalid for not less than 3 years if the limit is exceeded by up to 10 KPH or if the offense is repeated more than three times.

➢ The Inspector General of Police would designate areas where Police will be required to erect roadblocks.

➢ There will be road signs showing the prescribed speed limits.

➢ PSV drivers and conductors would be required to wear badges and uniforms. In addition, the PSV drivers would be required to do a compulsory competence test every two years.

➢ Motorcycles would have to be insured against third party risks and the riders would be compelled to wear helmets and reflector jackets. Penalties for contravening this law would attract a KES 10 000 fine or a one-year jail term.

What do you think will be the impact of these new laws ?

Kenyans and Nairobi City dwellers in particular went on Twitter to rant about the impact of the transport crisis. Using the hashtag #MatatuStrike, they offered their views and comments on the situation:
@LarryLari: matatu operators are clearly out of line…always are!all the more reason public transport should be a state responsibility #matatustrike
@DavidOsiany: What are Matatu operators showing us by this #MatatuStrike? That we cherish lawlessness. That a few people can hold a whole country hostage.

@Ramah_Nyang: A cab driver I know, commenting on the #MatatuStrike, says clients are “calling [him] off the hook.” His services are now being bid for.

@RobertAlai: Allowing private business to control 95% of public transport is the biggest tragedy in Kenya. No serious economy allows that #MatatuStrike

@JnttNemo: On top of walking home in the rain on Ngong road now people are being mugged? My psyche for work tomorrow is at 0.5%#matatuStrike

@GichumbiSam: With this #MatatuStrike, I truly miss Hon. Michuki [a former Transport Minister who passed away earlier this year]. We pay this price to sort the mess in public transport once and for all. I support laws
#CarPoolKe Initiative
The matatu strike also brought out a positive side of people, through initiatives started to help Kenyans get home and also report to work safely. Going by the hashtag #CarPoolKe, this drive was initiated and moderated by @KenyaRedCross with the help of their social media enthusiast @PhilipOgola:
@KenyaRedCross: Stranded in town? check out #carpoolKE …. Guys are offering rides through this hashtag get home safely
@mentalacrobatic: we're trying to organize #CarPoolKE tweets to help make information easier to find and use here https://carpoolke.crowdmap.com/ 
@Pastor_Wa: At Capital Center Msa rd. Headed North Airport way. Any peep want a ride from this preacher? #CarPoolKe
@IanMwaura: Got a lift straight home from a bunch of strangers courtesy of @KenyaRedCross and the hashtag #CarpoolKE thanks y'all. #KOT
Though no communication has been put forward on how long the capital's public transport will remain in this state, Kenyans have once again proved that they can come together using simple tools and means to fight for a common cause.
  • rc_102394

    finaly something the government has done for the country… its a good desion and if the public has a problem with it… then theres nothing they can do except protest as one day or the other being a developing country they have to go to work

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