Passengers stranded as NTSA, police seize faulty matatus in crackdown
Hundreds of passengers were yesterday stranded as the National Transport and Safety Authority in conjunction with police launched a crackdown on unroadworthy vehicles across the country.
On the Thika superhighway, at least 60 Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were impounded and drivers arrested, leaving passengers, especially those heading upcountry for Christmas festivities stranded.
The police checks were mounted at Witeithie on Thika superhighway, Ngoliba on the Garissa highway and on Kabete-Limuru road, causing massive traffic snarl-ups on the respective routes.
Former Vice President and Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka was one of the travellers affected by the crackdown. He was stuck in traffic at Vincentian Retreat Centre area on Thika Road for a long time.
Commuters took to social media platforms to express their frustration. A Twitter user @patrick_omondi, said: “Whatever is happening on Thika Road is unwarranted...Did the police have to wait until today to conduct the Crackdown?”
Kiambu County Police Commander Ali Nuno said speed governors of majority of the impounded vehicles had been tampered with.
“Most of the vehicles are faulty with defective seat belts. Some drivers had no licences and those arrested will be arraigned in court tomorrow,” he said.
Nuno said the operation would continue during the festive season to ensure Kenyans’ safety on the road.
NTSA Thika regional manager Kendi Mutuma the crackdown was occasioned by a presidential directive.
Timing of operation
In the Coast region NTSA and police conducted a similar crackdown, impounding least 20 unroadworthy vehicles.
Passengers headed to Kilifi, Malindi, Lamu and Tana River were the worst hit by the swoop.
Vehicles plying routes within Mombasa county were also affected by the operation. Those impounded had defective speed limiters and seat belts, while in some cases drivers lacked requisite documents.
Drivers caught up in the crackdown faulted the timing of the operation.
Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Association chairman Michael Kariuki said while police and NTSA were within their rights to conduct the operation, it was ill-timed as it inconvenienced passengers.
“These crackdowns ought to have been carried out when passengers’ flow was less, not now,” he said.
The situation on Thika Road was compounded by the ongoing construction of footbridges at Jomoko and Witeithie areas by the Kenya National Highway Authority.
Motorists have been advised to use alternative routes tomorrow as the Witeithie stretch will be closed to allow the erection of the footbridge. Vehicles coming from Nairobi will be diverted at Exit 16A , while those coming to Nairobi will be forced to use alternative routes through Thika.
Meanwhile, motorists using the Mai Mahiu-Limuru road were stranded for hours in traffic jam following a crash involving two trucks.
The snarl-up stretching for over five kilometres was compounded by the move by some inpatient drivers to overlap.
And in Naivasha, residents of Jikaze IDP camp escaped death narrowly yesterday after a loaded truck rammed into their houses on Naivasha-Mai Mahiu road.
The houses were flattened but no one was injured in the Monday morning accident. -Reporting by Mathew Ndung’u, Kirera Mwiti and Monica Kagia