Members of the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) are now complaining of lack of seat belts in the market which has forced them to ground their vehicles for fear of being impounded.
MOA Chairman Simon Kimutai told journalists Thursday that seat belts are in short supply following a high demand from Public Service Vehicle operators who are in the last minute rush to comply with the re-introduced Michuki rules.
“We don’t have seat belts; the ones which were substandard have been bought and they can’t even last a week before buckles are off and nobody has made the initiative of importing quality ones. This has made many vehicles to be parked and so we have a challenge especially when we are not capable of importing them ourselves,” said Kimutai.
He estimated that between 80,000 to 90,000 vehicles countrywide have had to keep off roads due to lack of safety belts, saying it has led to lose of huge sums of money.
According to the regulations, vehicles without fitted seat belts will attract a fine of Sh10,000 for each seat that doesn’t have a seat belt or with a substandard one.
Kimutai said 70 per cent of matatus have complied and complained of continued harassment by police officers saying they are not opposed to the regulations but with the manner which the enforcement is being conducted.
“We aren’t against the law, but it’s very clear that there has been lots of harassment of matatu operators which is not acceptable. We want to tell law enforcement officers to enforce the law putting on a human face because we are not thugs; we are doing legitimate business and providing services which facilitates economic growth of this country,” he said.
So far 40,000 traffic offenses have been recorded since the crackdown begun.
The MOA Coast Region coordinator Salim Barak also lamented how members from the Coast are charged heavy fines for petty offenses.
“I find this crackdown very unfair… people are being taken to court for offences which are not even stipulated in the law. Some of our members in Mombasa have been fined not less than Sh3,000 for lack of a price list,” said Barak.
The government has however maintained its position that there is no going back in the crackdown of rogue public service vehicles vowing to intensify the enforcement.