June 24th 2017

Top Stories / National

Nairobians alarmed by rising cases of 'planned' robberies in matatus

According to interviews with several victims of the matatu hijacks, the armed robbers usually position themselves at the back and front of the matatus at the terminus before any other passenger has boarded the vehicles.

By Nyambura Muthoninmuthoni@kenyafreepress.comWednesday, 08 Feb 2017 09:14 EAT

A Nazigi Sacco matatu. This photo is for illustration only and does not imply that the vehicle or its driver have been involved in the robberies.

Residents of Githurai 44 and other estates along Thika Road have raised the alarm over increased cases of armed robbery believed to be facilitated by matatu drivers operating on the route. Suspected matatu drivers are believed to collude with thugs who divert their vehicles as ordinary passengers only to turn against their fellow passengers and commandeer the vehicles into cofffee farms around Garden Estate, Karura Forest along Kiambu Road or in the fields beyond Githurai 44.

According to interviews with several victims of the matatu hijacks, the armed robbers usually position themselves at the back and front of the matatus at the terminus before any other passenger has boarded the vehicles. The vehicles then leave the terminus and pick up passengers at several stops along the way in a bid to fool the rest of the soon-to-be-robbed passengers that the matatu is going through its normal course of business.

After strategic distances, such as at Roysambu Roundabout, Allsops Flyover or Muthaiga, the robbbers pretend to have taken control of the matatu from an unwilling crew, commandeering it to the forested spaces where the passengers are robbed. The 14-seater Nazigi Sacco vehicles have been most affected, but passengers have also reported being robbed on Zuri, Marimba and 44 Company buses.

Another route where passengers have made similar reports is Kayole route, where Forward Travelers, Pin Point and Prime Transity saccos have had their buses hijacked. Once passengers board the matatu, the vehicle takes off at high speeds as the driver plays loud music. After travelling for some kilometers, the robbers rise with their weapons, silencing the passengers. They rob everyone and then leave, making the passengers frightened and confused some almost shivering to death.

Matatus are the most convenient means of transport for most Nairobians. The most affected class of vehicles are the 14-seater matatus, in part because their drivers and conductors are employed on more temporary basis unlike the large buses whose workers have long term contracts. those on temporary contracts are difficult to identify them since they don’t have uniforms. 

In most of the cases this website was informed of, whenever the victims reported to police stations, officers claimed they couldn't trace the thieves.

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