By The COAST Reporter
Operations along the Mombasa-Nairobi highway could soon be paralyzed if a section of long distance truck drivers make good of their threat to down their tools.
Kenya Long Distance Truck Drivers and Elite Workers Union have issued a seven-day ultimatum for police to arrest and disclose those behind the killings of their fellow drivers along Voi-Masimba-Maungu stretch.
The drivers say they will go on strike beginning next week if police fail to head their call and bring to book those behind the killings.
In the last three months, four drivers were hijacked and killed with the latest killing taking place on Thursday morning.
Addressing the Media in Mombasa, the union’s national secretary general Nicholas Mbugua said it’s sad for drivers to day while on duty and yet no action is taken to apprehend the perpetrators.
“This is the fourth driver killed so far and no arrests have been made. We are giving the government seven days to tell us what’s going on or else..”, he said.
He said no truck will be allowed on the road if by next week no one will have been arrested.
Despite efforts to raise security concerns of their drivers along the stretch the efforts have been falling on deaf ears and not even a single suspect has been arrested, he added.
Mbugua also called on the government to ban the illegal sale of fuel along the highway saying it’s a major contributor to hijacking cases.
He said that highway robbers have been targeting long distance trucks to siphon fuel and in some cases steal goods on transit.
“Let’s borrow a leaf from our neighbors in Uganda, no fuel is sold on Jerricans, only through the fuel pump,” said Mbugua.
He challenged the police patrolling the highway to be vigilant enough and comb the area and get rid of suspicious trucks carrying more than one person.
“We are still fighting for turn-boys to be brought back. A truck should have only the driver on board. In case you see more than one person, raise the flag because the driver could have been hijacked but is unable to indicate that to you,” Mbugua said.
Mbugua also warned drivers to park in safe areas saying that many choose to park and sleep in the middle of nowhere to save on the millage money given to them by employers.
He said that despite having more than 281,000 trucks on the road, only about 15,000 are members of the union.
“It is sad that employers stop drivers from joining unions, many have been fired for doing so. But we continue to push and recruit them,” he said.
He said that most drivers were employed through word of mouth and paid peanuts making it difficult to fight for their rights, adding that those in the union were earning less than Sh50, 000 per month.
“How do you expect a driver to survive on Sh8, 000 subsistence from Mombasa to Malaba all the way to Kampala in Uganda and back,” he posed.
The union’s national chairman David Chiroto added that police along the Voi-Maungu stretch should be held accountable saying that it was astonishing that criminals just disappear in thin air after killing and abandoning bodies along the road.
He demanded for security to be beefed up along the area especially Maungu saying that truck drivers have a right to live and fend for their families. “When we chose to become truck drivers, it didn’t mean that we signed our death certificates. Guarantee us security so that we can do our work and fend for our families,” said Chiroto.