Deaths On Magadi & Lang’ata Roads Will Continue Unless Police Let Go Of The Matatu Business

When the National Police Service Commission vetted about 12,000 officers linked to Public Service Vehicles as owners or ‘stakeholders’ February 2016, members of the public hoped that rogue drivers and SACCOs would be eliminated from our roads. Today, we are suffering what a series of vetting ended up being coy in the name of ‘vetting sessions to unearth massive corruption’.

For the last five years, matatus from route 125 plying the CBD–Lang’ata– Ongata Rongai Route have been in the papers and airwaves for all the wrong reasons, save for how artistic their bodies are deemed to be. The ‘matatus’ have been linked to hundreds of deaths along Magadi and Lang’ata Roads.

These ‘matatus’ are owned by officers in the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and station commanders who commandeer and influence alot of what happens on the roads. Even though owning matatus by officers has been deemed a conflict of interest by the National Police Commission, this has not stopped officers from doing so.

Student Deaths

If you are familiar with the Magadi road stretch right from Galleria, you know how narrow it is and hard to accommodate fast traffic. Again if you ply that route there is a big difference in terms of time when you choose to commute through ‘chilled’ SACCOs with normal matatus and no booming music, just enough to get you home, compared to ‘Nganyas’. Nganya is slag for a pimped matatu, it thing on the roads when it comes to body, interior, entertainment and of course the turn boy and his cool miraa chewing driver, it’s not business as normal.

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The lanes are different and even how the authorities handle them is different, they are the entitled kids on the roads, the driver being probably 22 or 25 if you are lucky. some may be older than that but you see a passenger won’t really check the driver’s age over securing the hot seats. A Nganya is a big pass for a fast drive to town and at the same time immersed in intense music for boom twaf! die hards. The drivers are known to overlap carelessly on the slim road with some of them even scratching private cars off their lanes. Passengers are not to spare as hit and run incidents are no big deal with these road bullies.

This has led to protests by Multi-Media University students one of the institutions and maybe the only public one on that stretch. During the protests against rogue drivers and the continued death of students from the institution, they end up being arrested and harassed in return. There is really no breakthrough for the several protests attempted and held on this road.

The guts these drivers have been fueled by the godfathers behind them. Popular ‘businessmen’, politicians, police and drug dealers and the likes have a lot of stake in many deaths on these roads. This madness has been allowed by traffic officers who either get ‘kakitu’ in large amounts or watch their bosses’ matatus go, rogue, as they watch. The entitlement calls for even higher fares if you happen to board them and drunk turn boys who could throw you out in the bushes if you tried complaining about anything. From content on the screens, the volume of vulgar music, fares, mishandling of passengers mostly older folks and the language used will tell you that is not your normal yellow lined matatu.

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Now that it is deemed a conflict of interest, why won’t these same Police Commission start from their side and eliminate rogue matatus on our roads through punishing officers participating in the business and stop all the chaos on our roads? Not to forget members of the public are also affected by the series of protests.

Gathoni Kuria

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