Kasarani residents are a troubled lot. There is no doubt about that.
From poor road network with potholes, as huge as craters on the moon, frequent demonstrations mired with tragedy, evidently, they have had a roller coaster entry into 2020.
But if you thought that is the only thing plaguing Kasarani and Mwiki residents, in Nairobi county, wait till you hear about a marauding gang which has been terrorizing commuters who use that route.
The group of up to 10 youths, who have been masquerading as matatu crews, have turned travelling to and from work a perilous voyage, which these city dwellers dread to embark on, each day.
The rogue touts have been milking the locals dry of their hard-earned-cash after toiling the whole day in the sweltering Nairobi January heat.
So dire is the situation, such that frustrated residents are contemplating to resort to the law of the jungle after their cry fell on deaf ears, putting the local authorities on the spot.
Left with no other option, the residents have now taken to social media, pouring their hearts out as they narrate chilling ordeals in the hands of ruthless gangs whose hideout is the infamous (Hannover and Expresso) matatus plying the Mwiki and Kasarani routes, while cautioning others to keep safe.
Tim is still traumatized by the unfortunate encounter he had with the goons last year on Christmas Eve.
“I boarded the matatu and paid my fare with a Sh200 note. I had been told it was Sh50. The conductor alighted at Seasons. There were some unruly, unkempt lads who were swaying on the matatu but once a passenger tried to exit, they would cram at the entrance,” he narrated to Nairobi News.
“I thank God I had donned tight jeans. Nothing was stolen from me. But what shocked me the most was when they snatched a phone from a man who was standing behind me. When he tried to stop them, they descended on him with blows and kicks as horrified passengers scampered for safety,” he narrates.
According to some residents, the youths normally operate as a well-organized gang.
They prey on clueless passengers, robbing them of their valuables, including phones and purses in broad daylight, as other horrified commuters watch, waiting for their turn.
“Once your phone is snatched it is swiftly passed to another guy who usually sits at the front seat close to the exit. This is designed to ensure that even in the event a body search is conducted on the guys standing at the door, the phone or the stolen item can never be found. It’s horrifying, we don’t know what the police is doing about it. It is now a year down the line since I started hearing about it until I experienced the same,” Tim lamented.
The ‘nganyas’, as they are popularly known, are normally pimped in flashy bold colors and body works and play extremely loud music in order to attract commuters.
They also promise very low fares compared to their competitors. Due to the seemingly ‘low charges’, innocent residents who work in the capital city scramble for it, hoping to save some extra coins, only to realize later that they had been duped.
Kasarani residents are now wary of using the matatus, be it early morning while going to work or late at night for fear of being robbed the little they gathered after an enervating day.
“For your own safety, you should be careful to only board these nganyas during the day. Avoid them like plague during early morning and at night. They once robbed us everything at Maternity area at around 11pm and then went on to drop us as usual without fear as if nothing had happened. These people should be taught a lesson,” remarks another area resident.
Traumatized after witnessing what the notorious gangsters are capable of, Mwiki and Kasarani commuters are now living in fear of being injured or even killed by the heartless criminals who seem to lose control at the slightest provocation.
When asked why the commuters cannot just gang up and teach the crooks a lesson they will live to remember, their response is chilling enough as previous incidents are still fresh in their minds.
“There is no need of competing with them. Have you forgotten those who pushed a passenger out as the vehicle was moving at Safari Park? Prevention is better than cure. And again, it is not one person you are dealing with, they usually operate in a gang of more than 10 youths,” a resident offers.
The goons are so confident and nothing seems to scare them, not even the police, as revealed by a resident who witnessed them mercilessly clobbering a passenger.
When they were confronted, the touts arrogantly responded that police cells are nothing new to them.
It is such incidents which have Kasarani residents pleading with NTSA to intervene while some accuse rogue police officers of being complicit with the criminals.
“Nowdays police do not help. The money they receive from those touts so they can do as they please is a lot. They cannot help you, instead they will just fleece you everything when you go to report to them,” opines Lutan, a resident.