Passengers Stranded in Machakos After Matatus Pull Out of Roads

Transport to and from Machakos town was on Wednesday morning paralyzed after matatu owners withdrew their vehicles from the roads.

Passengers Stranded in Machakos After Matatus Pull Out of Roads

Transport to and from Machakos town was on Wednesday morning, July 21 paralyzed after matatu owners withdrew their vehicles from the roads.

Chairman of Machakos Matatu Owners Association Onesmas Kyalo told the Nation that the protests were as a result of the Machakos County government allowing matatus meant for Nairobi and Kiambu to operate within the area.

The aforementioned matatus belong to SACCOs which have been authorized by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) to operate in the county.

Matatu operators on strike in Machakos County on July 21, 2021. /TWITTER

"The problem emanates with the county government. It has given the matatus letters of no objection without consulting the relevant stakeholders.

"This is how NTSA has allowed the matatus to ply routes in Machakos County," Kyalo lamented.

More than 3,000 matatus participated in the strike, which affected travellers to and from Kajiado, Kitui, Machakos, Makueni, and Nairobi counties. Boda boda riders capitalised on the strike by dropping their passengers quickly in the county as matatu operators flagged down defiant public service vehicles.

This isn't the first time matatu owners have gone on strike  in the town. In a letter to the matatu owners in June, Machakos transport executive Naomi Mutie promised to look into the grievances.

The strike was reminiscent of an event on February 10, 2021 where hundreds of commuters were stranded in Ngong town after matatu operators went on strike protesting the entry of the famous Super Metro vehicles into the Nairobi-Ngong route.

The operators complained against the entry of the vehicles which are well known among users of the Nairobi-Kikuyu and Nairobi-Thika routes.

Speaking to Viral Tea at the time, highly placed sources at the scene attributed the strike to the vehicle operators' desire to employ locals residing within the Ngong area, despite a majority of matatu touts and drivers operating the route being sourced from outside.

Netizens on Twitter also alleged that the entry of the Super Metro vehicles in the route was for purposes of offering cheaper fares to the already exorbitant ones in place. This was despite its crew lowering fares from Ksh100 to Ksh80.

The route has previously been dominated by an established Sacco which has the reputation of extorting passengers with exaggerated fares. 

The operators also alleged that the new matatu Sacco began plying the route despite protests from operators as to how the matatu Sacco, known to ply the Nairobi and Kiambu routes, was cleared to operate in Kajiado County.

Ngong matatu operators chairman Steve Biko had urged all matatus to down their tools until their grievances are addressed.

“We are not opposed to having Super Metro Sacco operate the Ngong route but they must follow the due process. If that is not done then they will not operate here,” he noted.

A fleet of Super-Metro vehicles. /TWITTER