Transport in Meru paralyzed as matatus operators stage protests

Transport in Meru Town ground to a halt on Friday, May 31, 2024, as Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators, including matatus and taxis, staged a significant protest.

The matatu and taxi operators obstructed the main roads leading into the bustling town, making the area impassable. In a show of defiance, they lit bonfires using old tires and placed stones on the roads, preventing other motorists from accessing Meru Town.

Passengers were left stranded as the matatu operators ceased operations and confronted law enforcement officers over what they claimed was undue interference by the county authorities in their operations. Commuters had to rely on boda boda operators, who managed to navigate through the chaotic situation.

Law enforcement officers from Meru intervened to disperse the protesting matatu operators, who cited mistreatment by county officials as the cause of their demonstration.

At the time of this report, Meru County officials had not yet responded to the concerns raised by the striking matatu and taxi operators. The operators demanded that their issues be addressed by the county leadership before they would resume normal operations.

Meru Town roads blocked by stones and bonfires on Friday, May 31, 2024. PHOTO/ Nelson Mutwiri.

Meru County has seen a series of protests in recent times. On May 26, 2024, traders in the region halted business activities to protest the ban on the sale of muguka by Mombasa and Kilifi Counties. The irate residents, lamenting the ban’s devastating impact on their livelihoods, blocked the highway in Runyenjes Town, causing massive traffic jams and disrupting daily commerce.

Police had to use tear gas to disperse the crowd, which had begun barricading the road with stones and burning tires to restore the smooth flow of traffic. They blocked the busy Embu-Meru highway, insisting that the ban was abrupt and unprocedural.

“We were not given a chance to present our views. The authorities just made this decision without considering how it would affect thousands of families who rely on this trade,” one affected trader complained.

However, following a meeting between President William Ruto and regional leaders, the traders called off their protests.