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Impunity’s face as rogue driver evades justice

Tuesday, February 27th, 2024 06:00 | By
Rogue Driver
Bybuss Trans Sacco driver Paul Kiarie is spotted ushering passengers into his matatu on February 9. Police at Spring Valley Police Station claim they have been unable to track him since he knocked down a woman on July 2022 while driving another matatu. PHOTO/Print

On July 29, 2022, Lilian Murugi, a kindergarten teacher was knocked down by a public service vehicle (PSV) at Hill View along Lower Kabete Road in Nairobi County on her way to work.

She was rushed to MP Shah Hospital and later taken to Kenyatta University Teaching Referral and Research Hospital (KUTRRH) where she spent four months in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and two weeks in the general ward.

Due to the severity of the accident, Murugi sustained brain injury resulting in memory loss. She may never walk on her own again since she also developed a disability causing her entire right side of her body weak.

The driver of the matatu belonging to Transworld Sacco plying the Wangige - Nairobi route, Paul Kiarie abandoned the vehicle and fled the accident scene. He later presented himself at Spring Valley Police Station to record statement and was issued a cash bail.

After numerous follow ups by the victim’s family to find if the driver was arrested, the investigating officer, Vincent Ogalo, claimed he had gone underground and could not be traced despite earlier promises that the sacco would produce him.

Victim disabled

Murugi’s life was completely changed by the accident, which left her disabled. She is now wholly dependent on her family members who have to juggle her basic needs including feeding, home nursing and health among others. The family is also reeling under huge financial burden owing to the medical expenses.

But more devastating is the fact that almost one-and-a-half years later; the driver has not been charged in court. Kiarie is back on the road, always driving past the gate of Spring Valley Police Station, even as the police officers claim he cannot be traced. The aggrieved family embarked on an investigation and established that Kiarie was still plying the Wangige route.

“We have spotted him driving various matatus operated by Home Sacco, Transworld and ByBuss Trans which ply the 118/119 route,” a family member of the victim said adding that they have lived along the route for over two decades.

A family member of the victim informed the investigating officer who still maintained that he had not arrested the suspect since he was unable to track him.

When the officer was given the details of the vehicles, he simply said that he “could not remember the driver’s face.”

The police officer would later task the family members with task of tracing the suspect.

“He told us to take a photo of the driver and the vehicle he is driving. Once we spot him and send him through WhatsApp,’ a family member said.

On February 9 at around 4pm, Kiarie was spotted driving a matatu registration number KAX 916K, belonging to ByBuss Trans, at Khoja Stage.

Shared photo with police

A family member took his photos and those of the vehicle and shared with the officer. The officer then informed him that he had shared the details with his colleagues on patrol and those manning traffic along the route. He also assured him that the driver would be arrested.

Almost two weeks later, the officer claimed they could not arrest the driver since he was not a permanent employee of the Sacco and was always on-and-off schedule on the road.

The officer further claimed that he had forwarded the driver’s file to the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for assistance in tracking down the driver.

A senior traffic officer stationed at Gigiri Traffic Control who is privy to Murugi’s case confirmed that the driver’s details are now with the DCI.

“Whatever Ogalo is saying is not new and shows that he has not done further investigations on this case. We are the ones who informed him that Kiarie is a squad driver. All the Wangige-Nairobi route matatus drive past Spring Valley gate every day and it would not take Ogalo even a day to arrest the driver. Why are the police and those saccos protecting the driver who caused grievous harm to Murugi and denying her justice?” he posed.

He went on: “We wish to inform Ogalo that the driver has been bragging to his peers how he will continue dodging the police because they know him, they are his friends and can never sell him out until that case fades away. Kiarie says he is playing hide and seek because no witness will vividly recall how the accident happened when days are far spent.”

While processing an abstract for Murugi, the kin pointed out that Ogalo had informed the family that he could refer them to a competent lawyer to take up the compensation case but when they declined the offer, the officer afterwards seemed to lose interest in the matter especially on the arrest of the driver. 

This is not the first case where a Bybuss Trans sacco matatu crew has gone rogue.

Late last year, the sacco attracted public outcry after a conductor in one of its minibuses plying along Thika Super Highway was captured dragging and slapping another female passenger in a viral video clip.

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