Mount Kenya Matatu owners threatened to challenge the decision by the government to introduce new speed limit gadgets early October by seeking a court order to bar the implementation of the new policy.
Addressing their concerns through their chairperson Michael Kariuki, the matatu operators said they were staring at a Ksh6.8 billion loss if the government went ahead with the implementation of the new generation speed governors.
The operators accused the National Transport and Safety Authority of sidelining them by refusing to conduct consultations before implementing the new directive.
The association which operates more than 10,000 public service vehicles in the region wrote a memorandum to transport CS James Macharia and Interior CS Fred Matiangi, stating that neither NTSA nor the Transport Ministry explained why the current speed governors failed.
In the memo, Kariuki argued that the exercise was not about public safety but a cash cow for a few individuals to milk billions from the transport sector.
The operators said they would move to court and seek an order to bar the exercise because attempts to dialogue with the state over the issue had borne no fruits.
However, its sister organization, the Matatu Owners Association led by Simon Kimutai said they had secured a meeting with Matiang’i to chart a way forward on the matter.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke, Kimutai supported the Mt Kenya matatu owners adding, “it could be a nice idea but the implementation process is wrong they should have done it gradually. If my governor is faulty then I should replace it. It would be unfair for a matatu owner to replace a working speed governor.”
Kimutai, in turn, requested that new vehicles coming into the market needed to be the ones fitted with the new gadget instead of ordering all matatus to replace functional gadgets - a costly exercise.
“We haven’t said that we would convene a matatu strike and the ministry should not push us towards that direction,” Kimutai concluded.
The Mt Kenya consortium accused the same suppliers who endorsed, approved and imported the current ‘tamper-proof’ governors in 2014 for agitating for the replacement of the same governors.
“They brought us defective or substandard speed governors, which were approved by both NTSA and Kenya Bureau of Standards. Now they are forcing us to replace them with new ones that they have still brought to us. This is no longer about road safety but it’s a business run by cartels who want to mint billions from the PSVs, Goods Carrying Vehicles (GCVs) and Tourist Service Vehicles,” Kariuki is quoted in The Standard.
Kariuki added that the association was law-abiding and that at no point would they go against a directive unless it is one that would exploit them.
He noted that the new governor was expected to have the ability to transmit speed and vehicle position coordinates every five seconds to two sites including the NTSA server and the suppliers’ server.
“However, we have no reason to believe that our security agencies have fully analyzed this new system to ensure that the data generated cannot be accessed by an illegal group to sabotage or organize attacks on our public transport system,” part of the memo signed by Kariuki reads.
He said that the matatu owners fear the data might be misused to perpetrate a crime or extort money from the operators.
“The data can be accessed by illegal or terrorist groups as well as rogue speed governor suppliers for illegal purposes. Again, rogue enforcement officers can use the data to extort money from operators and our business rivals seeking confidential private business information can get it,” the Chairman said.