Murang’a County Commissioner Mohammed Barre has issued a stern warning to suspected members of the outlawed Mungiki sect who have been preventing several public service vehicles from plying along the Kaharati-Muthithi-Kigumo-Kangari road.
The 41-kilometre stretch is now used by only one matatu sacco – Kigumo Travellers Sacco.
Other operators have given the road a wide berth due to what locals says is imposition of illegal charges by members of the outlawed Mungiki.
According to a source who declined to be named due to fear of reprisals from the Mungiki gang, for a conductor to be allowed to ply the route, he must part away with Sh4,000 while a driver must give Sh6,000.
At the same time, a matatu owner must part with Sh40,000, money which is given to the officials of the Mungiki group.
The source said the collection points for the illegal fees are at Karuri, Muthithi and Gakura, adding that this has been going on for years now.
“I was a conductor along the route and I gave out Sh1,500. They have increased the levies now,” the source said.
During the Mashujaa Day celebrations held in Kigumo on Sunday, a concerned resident brought the matter to the attention of the county commissioner, urging him and his security team to ensure fairness in the transport industry in Murang’a.
“We have held a public meeting and I discussed with the security team about the matter. I wish also to remind the county commissioner that the public and potential investors have a right to do business along the route,” the resident said.
Although there are other matatu saccos that have been registered by the National Transport and Safety Authority, none dares ply along the route, with locals claiming that some drivers and conductors who tried to venture there died under mysterious circumstances while their matatus were burnt to ashes.
County government officials who are in charge of the matatu stages are said to be aware of the situation, but they remain tight lipped about it since they live in the same area and fear for their lives.
“It is also a blow to the county government because the terminus should have different saccos but now it’s only occupied by only one sacco – Kigumo Travellers Sacco. We can’t say or do anything,” a county government official told the Nation.
However, County Commissioner Barre has maintained that he is aware that there are some matatu saccos that have applied to ply along the notorious road and assured them of security. He said anyone obstructing Kenyans from doing their businesses will be arrested.
“We are closely following the issue. There are some vehicles which have applied for licenses to ply along the road and once they are allowed, we want to know who this person who is obstructing Kenyans from doing their businesses is,” he said.
Early this year, Mr Barre warned the youth to look for other jobs to do instead of extorting money from the public, warning that there will be a crackdown on the extortionists.
“The youth must engage in productive and legal activities to earn their living. The issue of reaping where they never sowed will not be tolerated. The government that was there in 1997, 1998 and 2008 in Kangema is still the same; only the officers have been transferred,” he said, referring to the time when the Mungiki suspects were ruthlessly dealt with by the government.