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sweeping accusations against a reported crackdown

Stop harassing our drivers, Kenya safari operators tell Transport Board

Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN Uganda  Sep 15, 2011

(eTN) - The Chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association, Mohamed Hersi, has made sweeping accusations against a reported crackdown by Kenya's Transport Licensing Board’s (TLB) personnel engaged in road blocks and vehicle checks in the area around Voi, a popular crossroad from Mombasa into Tsavo East National Park, the Taita/Taveta area, and Tsavo West.

According to reports sent in to company offices in Mombasa by drivers with mobile phones, and apparently backed up by dated and timed pictures taken by tourists, it appears that overzealous TLB staff held up a number of tourist busses beyond a reasonable period of time, giving rise to speculation that TLB staff may have tried to extract bribes from exasperated driver guides, who are normally on a tight schedule and cannot afford to waste an hour or more at road blocks.

The stinging criticism swiftly brought TLB Chairman Hassan ole Kamwaro to the scene, in turn accusing Mr. Hersi of acting on hearsay and claiming Hersi "was not there," yet conveniently forgetting that phone cameras and phone videos would be able to not only fully document events at road blocks but also be transmitted instantly to those who needed to know and needed to react on behalf of the industry.

A Mombasa-based safari operator had this to say: "...and we all know how vehicle checkpoints work in Kenya. TLB should be quiet over how they ambush vehicles, and if indeed a safari car would be found with an expired license, give them a ticket and let them go but do not spoil Kenya’s name by playing games with delays or trying to get bribes. Police and authorities have not learned a thing since their almighty days in the old Kenya; they should learn PR when dealing with ‘Wagenis’ and modern standards of policing and not give the image of a police state."

Hersi in turn rejected Kamwaro’s accusations and stood his ground, saying he did not need to be in the field to witness transgressions himself but could rely on phoned-in reports from member companies and their field staff.

Stop harassing our drivers, Kenya safari operators tell Transport Board
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