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New security no real help, say matatu users

Commuters have cast doubts on the effectiveness of heightened use of metal detectors as a security measure at the city centre, and not at the estate matatu termini.

A spot check revealed that matatu crews use the gadgets, but the effect is halved since they still pick up passengers, who never get screened, on the way.

A concerned Umoja resident said: “The gadgets are only used at the city centre during peak hours while passengers boarding the vehicles from the estates’ side are not screened, leaving many security loopholes.” 

Terrorism

The crews pick passengers arbitrarily. Only buses from specific areas conduct the security checks. 

While commuters may be happy about the presumed heightened security — thanks to the use of gadget— it may all be just be a show.

A supervisor with Double ‘M’ transport firm said: “Many conductors either ignore or make too many assumptions and let commuters get into matatus without a thorough search. They even do not bother when the detector beeps.” 

At the Eastleigh terminus in the city centre, however, passengers were being screened thoroughly, probably because the importance of the gadgets was emphasized after an explosion occurred in an Eastleigh-bound matatu towards the end of last year.

The metal detectors were introduced to curb acts of terrorism and hijackings along major roads.

Some matatu crews argue that vehicles are prone to criminals while commuting from town and not vice versa. 

“The county government concentrated on putting up termini at the city centre, while there are no clearly designated pick-up places in the estates,” said Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai.

Passengers scramble to get into vehicles in the estate and it is not easy to get them screened. 

Compliant Moa supervisor Mike Ngugi said: “Not unless we (matatu crews) come up with satisfactory plans to introduce the gadgets, in the estates, commuters’ safety is at stake.”

It is the habit of picking commuters anywhere that is dealing a blow to the noble initiative. Sometimes such passengers turn out to be criminals, concurred Kimutai and Ngugi. 

“Crimes happen, especially in the evenings and at night when people are coming from work. We are advising matatu operators to stop picking passengers anywhere, “ they said.