West Pokot; Matatu operations paralysed for days as operators protest police frustrations
Transport along the Makutano-Kacheliba –Alale route towards the neighboring country of Uganda border in West Pokot has been paralyzed for four days now after matatu operators downed their tools in a move they termed as police frustration and bribery along the route.
Speaking after holding a demonstration on Saturday, the operators cited being harassed by the security organs led by police officers from Kacheliba Sub County who are saying they are being arrested and their vehicles being grounded falsely without any mistake having all that is required for them to operate on the road.
However, the operators have vowed not to continue with their operation until the matter is solved in an amicable way through consultation with the authorities in the region.
“We need traffic officers on the road, not the OCPD. We are forced to give out more than KSh. 500. OCPD Alale must go because he comes to the parking and takes all the vehicles to the police station because we have refused each vehicle to give out KSh. 500,” said Joash Ondieki, a matatu driver.
Rajab Lodomo, the chairperson of matatu operators on the road, accused the police of exploiting them during these hard economic times.
“We go for more than 190 kilometres hence working at a loss. We recently gave him KSh. 30,000 for 60 vehicles each KSh. 500 and he is again demanding for more before the month elapses. We have other responsibilities and fuel prices are still high. We want to know if the police are paid salaries since the bottom-up started,” he said.
“We drive people’s vehicles and we are not making any profit. Why do police impound vehicles at parking without passengers,” asked Mr Shaban Wafula, a driver.
The move by the operators comes in as the police department in the area found itself at a crossroads with the residents and local leaders led by West Pokot Senator Julius Murgor and Sigor MP Peter Lokachapong who have termed the operation to be inhuman and illegal according to traffic and transportation rules in the country.
Murgor condemned the move and wants the officers investigated. “We need to know the truth concerning the matter,” he said.
Lochakong called for the transfer of the officers involved from the area.
“This is not right. You can’t not nab all the youths because you want bribes. If you are not comfortable with your salary just surrender the job. Hustlers are looking for money and if they are chased from the road where will they go?” he asked.
However, speaking on the phone Kacheliba sub-county OCPD Nathan Sanya refuted claims by matatu operators saying that the move is aimed to improve the transport services in the area and also eliminate rogue operators in the system.