• The Mount Kenya Matatu Owners Association wants the state to be stopped from introducing new speed limiters
• They say that neither the minister nor the National Transport Safety Authority has indicated how or why the current governors have failed
Matatu operators will part with Sh6.8 billion if the government implements a proposal that their vehicles should be fitted with new generation speed governors from June 1.
But Mount Kenya Matatu Owners Association intend to go to court to stop Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia and his Interior and Coordination of National Government counterpart Fred Matiang’i from implementing the decision.
They say that neither Macharia nor the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) has indicated how or why the current governors have failed.
The association says in a memo signed by chairman Michael Kariuki that the decision is not about road safety but meant to benefit a few individuals.
Kariuki said that speed governors suppliers endorsed, approved and imported the current ‘tamper proof’ speed governors in 2014. According to them, they are the same people agitating for the gadgets' replacement.
“They brought us defective or substandard speed governors which were approved by both NTSA and Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs). Now they want us to replace them with new ones which they’ll still bring into the country. This is no longer about road safety but about a business run by the cartels who want to mint billions from the PSVs, Goods Carrying Vehicles (GCVs) and Tourist Service Vehicles (TSVs),” Kariuki said.
He told a members' meeting in Thika, “They have actually opened Speed governors fitting centres and rented vehicle yards in Nairobi waiting for June 1.”
The chairman said the new generation speed governors are expected to be able to transmit speed and vehicle position coordinates every five seconds to, among other sites, the NTSA server and the suppliers’ server.
“Our investigations have revealed that governor suppliers will track all PSVs, GCVs and TSVs every minute and report any violations to the traffic police, NTSA or NaMATA. However, we doubt that our security agencies have fully analysed this new system to ensure that the data generated cannot be accessed by an illegal group to sabotage or organise attacks on our public transport system,” Kariuki's memo says in part.
“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 says.
The operators want the state to recall all functional speed governors and compensate the owners.
“We have been grappling with serious issues in the PSV sector including corruption, high cost of NTSA compliance, county levies and licences, a high taxation regime, high insurance premiums, high congestion costs, unfair competition and extortion by illegal gangs. Now the government is on our neck again. We are law-abiding citizens,” the chairman said.
Association vice-chairman John Kiarie said the government should import the gadgets at no cost to the operator.
Bus operators' representative Stanley Kimani said most investors are contemplating abandoning the industry due to the high operational costs and over-exploitation by the state.
“We risk being auctioned by our money lenders,” Kimani said.
The association has an estimated 5,000 public service vehicles.