On Tuesday morning, February 16, the touts and drivers declined to remit levies to the askaris who they accused of corruption and bias at the Tharaka Nithi County terminus. The PSV operators claimed that the county staff also colluded with other matatus to flout Covid-19 rules.
“The reinforcement officers are not working as they should. They are lazy and favour some operators. They also take bribes and allow drivers to break the law.
“For example, some vehicles pick commuters outside the stage where they are allowed to ferry passengers at full capacity against directives by the Ministry of Health,” said Eric Mutembei, an operator at the stage claimed.
He added that the matatus operating within the terminus adhere to Covid-19 protocols and had to raise the fare to adjust to Kagwe’s directive. Mutembei further accused the county askaris of allowing matatus to operate outside the terminus without remitting stipulated levies.
“This has been one of our main grievances. We who follow the rules pay the levies as requested while those who flout rules only bribe officers and do not pay taxes. How can the county grow at such a rate?” he wondered.
The touts also claimed that they had presented their issues to the County Government management and Transport CEC who failed to address the matter.
They said that they would stick with strikes, demonstrations and chasing county askaris as the only means of raising their grievances. The touts said that they would not pay taxes until the matter is resolved.
Tharaka Nithi County unveiled automated machines in some areas to curb the loss of revenue. The government accused matatu attendants of colluding with askaris to avoid paying or to remitting less fee.
Governor Muthomi Njuki said the automated machines would be installed in all matatu termini within the county to capture revenue which unscrupulous attendants pocketed.
“Once all the matatu termini are automated, the collections that have been ending up in the pockets of some attendants who keep two sets of receipts will go to the county coffers hence an expected increase in revenue collection,” Njuki said.