Kenyans seem to have a collective problem and that is IGNORANCE. Granted, being ignorant is not necessarily a bad thing; I am happily ignorant of what cocaine “high” feels like, and I don’t want to know. It’s a fact that there are some things on this planet you would much rather never know about, but certainly the LAWS of your country do not fall under that category.
Dr. Evans Kidero really is a man under siege. You would think, given the sort of chaos that erupted on 5th March in the public transport sector, that he was a person who is unreasonable, a bully and an oppressive dictator who woke up one day and decided to impose a 200% increase in parking fees overnight. Certainly, that is the message that the public service operators (PSV), SACCOs and touts were sending; that they were compelled to protest, to disrupt transportation and to force thousands of Kenyans including myself, to walk to work.
My legs have recovered from the trek, which turned out to be an unnecessary exercise even though it may have been much needed. These PSV operators chose to hold the whole city hostage instead of adhere to rulings on their own petition 486 of 2013 in which the court found that the Nairobi Governor and county government had indeed consulted the public before increasing fares and instituting other measures that the PSV operators were protesting about.
Somewhere along the way, the general public was held for ransom by corrupt PSV operators whose sole intention was BLACKMAIL. Their view was simple; if the court cannot rule in their favor then they can easily disrupt public transportation and create chaos until the county government does exactly what they want.
The last time these PSV operators did something similar that was equally illegal, barbaric and an attempt at blackmail was back in 2003, when the government instituted new transportation laws better known as “Michuki rules”. Simply because the government, for the first time in the history of Kenya, showed some superficial concern for the lives of passengers and implemented rules on the provision of safety belts and speed governors, the PSV operators decided that all commuters in Kenya should walk to work. For 3 days, Kenyans valiantly walked, 3 days of excessively exercising previously sedentary legs, only for the PSV operators to balk and realize that they live hand to mouth and need to pay their rent.
This is the curse of ignorance. It doesn’t matter for how long PSV operators decide to strike, at the end of the day; they are the ones who are disrupting their OWN businesses. We are simply passengers; our sole investment in commuting is by virtue of the need to get to work without being exhausted. So deciding that the best response to a ruling on parking fees is to disrupt your OWN businesses and bring chaos will only inconvenience thousands of people for a few hours and then you will have to get back to earning your daily bread, which is what happened.
I think Dr. Kidero was being rather magnanimous by negotiating. He certainly was in a really compassionate mood when he decided to do that. If John Michuki was governor of Nairobi this week I assure you that we would still be walking to work 3 weeks later. So in a sense, I am grateful to Evans Kidero for agreeing to sit down and work things out with PSV operators.
As for the argument that the Nairobi County government did not engage the public adequately prior to enactment of the new laws concerning parking fees, it’s clear that ignorance caused PSV operators and their umbrella bodies to miss the SEVERAL gazette notices and advertisements put into the newspapers asking the public to attend forums in which the legislation, fees and implementation procedures were discussed.
It’s been 4 years since the Constitution was promulgated, isn’t it time that we all read it and internalized the various rights, privileges and responsibilities accorded to us? It’s not up to Dr. Evans Kidero to make a speech on TV each time the county government asks the public to engage in participatory forums. Actually, it is the citizens DUTY to seek to participate in governance issues at the county level as is mandated by the Kenya constitution article 10 and article 174. It may be a Kenyan thing to be ignorant, but to be ignorant of your own duties and then to run riot when you are left out of governance process is a sign of plain idiocy.