There is fear in parts of Kajiado that Mungiki adherents are slowly creeping back and have taken over public transport.
Matatu operators speak openly of the cartels that manage Kajiado roads, charging them a lot of money before they are allowed to operate.
Vehicle owners have to part with huge sums of money as “goodwill” for the cartels to allow them to operate. The gangs line their pockets with the illegal collections.
With more than 800 matatus, more than 1,000 tuk tuks, 600 taxis and more than 3,000 boda boda operators across the county, the cartels are minting millions of shillings from the collections. They have formed saccos in well-furnished rented offices. In every transport sector, there are office bearers who decide how much money one is required to cough out before being allowed to operate on a particular route.
COLLUDING WITH COPS?
When contacted, senior police officers denied knowledge of such cartels.
Isinya police chief Stephen Weda, said he is not aware of cartels that extort money from public service vehicles. But officers in lower ranks confirmed the cartels run the sector. One officer said most of those running the cartels managing matatus in Kajiado are former Mungiki followers, who went under during the 2012 crackdown on the sect.
“I have two matatus on the Nairobi-Kitengela route and I was charged Sh100,000 for each to be allowed to operate,” the officer said.
Kitengela Tuk Tuk Operators Sacco chairman James Kuria said new members are charged a non-refundable fee of Sh80,000 as registration before they are allowed on the roads.
“This is just a small token to enable our office to operate. Once one has paid the amount, they are required to pay Sh600 every month for the sacco,” Kuria said.
“We put that money into investments and at the end of each year, we discuss what members would wish to do with their money.”
But as Kuria painted his association as an investment opportunity for tuk tuk operators, several claimed he is lying. Kuria had earlier claimed the Sh600 is not compulsory. “Those who want to join our sacco do so voluntarily and they get their shares when profits are realised. There is no guarantee that you will make a profit every year,” the chairman said.
One operator said, “That is a big lie; we do not get anything out of that compulsory contribution. We have never heard of any AGM that has been called.” Investigations revealed 11-seater shuttles pay Sh100,000, eight-seater vehicles (Sh50, 000 ), 18-20-seater mataus (Sh150,000 ) and Sh3,000 for boda boda operators to start operations in various towns.
There are 123 tuk tuks in Kitengela town alone, which translates to Sh9.840 million in illegal registration.
Peter Kimeu (not his real name) on Friday last week put his newly acquired tuk tuk on the road in Kitengela. It did not last 15 minutes before the vehicle was detained by the sacco officials.
Kimeu reported the matter to the police and was told they have no power over transport management in the town. “The chairman told me the Sh80,000 is a must, adding that without the amount he has the power to detain the vehicle,” he said.
When the Star followed up on the allegation, the chairman insisted the sacco has full support of the traffic police to register such vehicles for easy management. When we identified ourselves as journalists and demanded more information, Kuria denied having said they charge the money from new members.
“At the end of last year members put new laws in place that new entrants will be charged Sh80,000 to be allowed to operate. Ever since December, we have not received any new member. Therefore, we have not taken any money from anyone,” Kuria said.
Naekana Sacco chairman Paul Matampash, who controls more than 100 vehicles that ply the Nairobi-Namanga and Nairobi-Loitokitok routes, refused to give information on the charges. “If you want to know what we charge, just come to our Nairobi office and you will be given our requirements. We do not give information over the phone,” said Matampash.
A businessman, Michael Njiru, who has two vehicles operating under Naekana Sacco, said he paid Sh200,000 three years back to be allowed to operate on the Nairobi-Namanga road.
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