Day two of the matatu drivers’ strike and Nairobi traffic is flowing – just. The stone throwing incidents of yesterday appear not have been repeated today as yet but violence and intimidation is still very much an aspect of the dispute.
PASSENGERS PULLED OUT OF CARS
Speaking to taxi drivers and private car users this morning the Kenya Forum heard reports of touts at staging posts pulling passengers out of cars which they deemed to be operating as un-official taxis and breaking the strike.
BODA-BODA AND TUK-TUK’S ATTACKED
There are also reports of boda-boda and tuk-tuk operators (who have massively increased their fares) being forced off the road and the passengers made to walk on.
In Eldoret there are reports of touts clashing with bus operators and barricading the roads in order to try to force them to join the strike. The police had to intervene to restore order.
NEW TRANSPORT LAWS A POLICE-BRIBERY CHARTER
The matatu operators have not endorsed the strike but agree with the drivers that the new transport regulations coming into force tomorrow will serve only to give the police more room to extract bribes and force rivals out of business.
The Daily Nation reports that matatu operators are now planning to collect more than a million signatures and challenge the new laws to be review in the courts.
The Kenya Forum believes matatu drivers should obey the law (and should have done so before) but also agree that the new Transport Act is a police-bribing charter and will not in and of itself solve Nairobi’s traffic madness.
SYNCHRONISED TRAFFIC LIGHTS PART OF THE SOLUTION?
One bright spark, a Ms Jessica Colaco, a research manager at Nairobi’s technical innovation centre, iHub, has come up with an idea that she hopes will help keep the traffic flowing.
Ms Colaco proposes the introduction of ‘smart’ traffic lights. The idea is that traffic lights will be linked to motion sensors, cameras and computers. When the traffic levels reach a certain point the lights will switch from red to green.
Technically clever, says the Kenya Forum. Theoretically doable no doubt, we say. We wish iHub and Ms Colaco well. But in a city where drivers regard red lights as purely advisory and then ignore the advice!), we fear it’s not going to work!