Dozens of tuk-tuk and boda-boda operators paralysed transport on the busy Namanga road for four hours on Tuesday to protest what they called ‘unfair’ competition from minibuses on the Kitengela-Muigai-Korompoi route.
Over the years, the tuk-tuk and boda-boda riders have operated on the route exclusively until recently, when minibuses plying the Nairobi-Kitengela route started ferrying passengers to the estates, much to the chagrin of their competitors.
The agitated riders barricaded the busy highway with their tuk-tuks and motorcycles, leaving passengers stranded along the road as it rained heavily.
The riders claimed that minibuses plying the Kitengela-Ola-Kisaju route had slashed bus fares from Sh70 to Sh30, forcing them out of business.
"Our business is no longer sustainable. We cannot allow a few individuals to put hundreds of people out of business. We will not allow the buses to operate on this route," said a boda boda driver, adding that they were servicing loans.
The Kitengela Tuk-Tuk Management Association (KTMA) Sacco said they would not allow the buses to operate in Kitengela. The tuk-tuk sacco has at least 300 members.
They blame the Isinya Sub-county administrator for allowing the buses to operate on the route in contravention of an earlier agreement between various stakeholders. A few months ago, a bus was pelted with stones by angry boda boda riders as it picked up customers along the Old Namanga Road.
"We are shocked to learn that the county government has issued the buses with permits to ply outside the route. We call on the sub-county administrator to revoke these permits," said John Mbgugua, a tuk-tuk operator.
Passengers who rely on either tuk-tuks or boda bodas for transport suffered during the heavy downpour on Tuesday morning.
Ms Jane Odhiambo told the Nation that she was forced to walk from Muigai Estate to Kitengela town.
"The standoff should be resolved amicably. I had to walk more than seven kilometres to get to work. Tuk tuk and boda boda are still our preferred means of transport in this area," said Ms Odhiambo.
The standoff caused a traffic jam on both sides for more than four kilometres. Police later dispersed the boda boda and tuk-tuk riders. Trucks from Namanga were stuck in traffic for hours
There are at least 300 tuk-tuks and 1,500 motorcycle taxis in Kitengela town and at least four matatu saccos operating in the town.