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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

How gangs of impunity run the road on Ongata-Rongai route


businessdailyafrica.com Wednesday, September 28, 2016 

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If matatu business is a byword for chaos, then Ongata Rongai route sums it all up. Despite the frequent patrols by police and National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) officers, many passengers still associate the route with loud music, speeding, overlapping, road rage, accidents and in extreme cases, death.

Most of these excesses are normally concentrated along the eight-kilometre Magadi road, that narrow stretch of road between Bomas of Kenya turnoff on Langata road and Ongata Roing town itself.

And yesterday, students of the Multi Media University blockaded the road. They were protesting the death of one of their own in a grisly road accident involving Ongata-bound matatu along Lang’ata Road that claimed four lives on Sunday.

The accident is said to have been as a result of reckless driving and speed, which the new matatus plying the route are infamous for.

Ongataline Transporters Limited, a fleet management company responsible for the ill-fated matatu has since been deregistered as a public service operator by the National Transport and Safety Authority.

In a release by NTSA, members of the public have been advised to avoid boarding these vehicles, which will be impounded if found operating.

The Ongata Rongai route has gained notoriety over the flashy, colourful and loud matatus referred to as nganyas. They are mostly driven recklessly and flout rules without any regard for commuter safety.

This has resulted in daily checkpoints being erected by NTSA along the route, mainly from 3pm to tame the overlapping menace responsible for the unending gridlock on the road to the highly populous town.

Alternative routes to and from Rongai including Gataka Road and Kibera have become a norm for motorists looking to bypass the snarl-up on the route.

During rush hour in the evening, the eight kilometre stretch from Galleria Mall to Rongai can take between an hour to two and a half hours to cover, instead of the 15 minutes it takes on a clear day.

These vehicles have been known to charge fares between Sh150 and Sh200 during rush hour and Sh100 during off-peak hours while other vehicles charge Sh50 to Sh100 for off-peak and peak hours respectively. Nganyas are popular among students of the universities along the route including MMU, Catholic University, Nazarene University and Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (Karen Campus).

In a letter by Ongataline Transporters to NTSA, the matatu claims to have over 240 employees including drivers, conductors and route inspectors.

The letter to the Director Road Safety NTSA referenced non-compliant motor vehicles and crews request the authority to intervene in disciplining four of the vehicles under the fleet manager’s umbrella that have been violating licensing regulations.

The matatus included on the list dated September 9, included the vehicle that crashed on Sunday.

“It has been quite hard on our side to tame the crew; we have resorted to withdrawing their RSL’s which we surrendered to your office on 01/09/2016 and we requested your office to take further action. We have reported these violations severally to the traffic department of the Kenya Police but so far no action has been taken. We as Ongataline have no powers to arrest and we can only inform your office for further instructions,” read the letter.

As at September 25, 2016, NTSA had recorded 2,225 fatalities and 3,669 injuries as a result of road accidents. This includes pedestrians, drivers, passengers, cyclists and motorcyclists.

Umoinner Sacco

Public service vehicles have a set maximum speed of 80 kilometres per hour on the highways but some have been seen to drive above this.

Speeding has been termed as one of the biggest contributors to a high fatality rate whenever a PSV is involved in an accident.

The government has since 2014 clamped down on speeding PSVs including the requirement that each should be fitted with a speed governor.

Umoinner Sacco was in 2013 grounded following an accident that claimed 12 lives. Similarly, last year NTSA suspended several Saccos following fatal accidents.

In January 2015, Embu based Neno Sacco was suspended following an accident that killed 10 people. Investigations showed that the matatu’s speed governor was faulty and that the driver was speeding and overtaking at a dangerous spot.

Kabras Line Sacco was suspended in May the same year after an accident by one of its vehicles, leaving nine people dead and two seriously injured.

Eastern Bypass Sacco was also suspended after four people lost their lives in an accident involving one of its vehicles.

Namaki Sacco was suspended after one of its matatus was involved in an accident that left three people dead.

Egesa Shuttle Sacco operations were suspended following an accident where one person died and three were seriously injured.

In June 2015 NTSA also suspended operations of the giant Embassava Sacco after one of its buses collided head on with another killing two people. The sacco which manages over 733 vehicles that ply the Eastlands routes.

Sema Sacco was also suspended in the same month after one of its buses rammed into a trailer leading to the death of seven people.

The suspensions were lifted after they took their staff members through training on road safety and customer service.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Disturbing Photos Reveal Life Inside a Legal Brothel in Bangladesh

Kajol with a customer. She thinks she is 17 years but does not know her exact age. She was married with 9 years. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. She has a 6 month son, Mehedi. Two weeks after the birth she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby her business is not so good.
Editor’s Note: The following story contains graphic images that may be disturbing to some readers
The Kandapara brothel in Tangail is the oldest and second largest one, it has existed for some 200 years. It has been demolished on July 12th 2014 by a group of armed men, backed by the local government. It has been established again with the help of local NGOs. Here live and work more than 700 sex workers with their children and their madams.
The Kandapara brothel
Though it was demolished in 2014, many women who grew up there didn’t know where else to go after it disappeared, so it was restarted again with the help of local NGOs. German-based photojournalist Sandra Hoyn recently went to Kandapara to document the inside of the walled city. She shared what she saw with NextShark via email.
Custumers inside the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
Custumers inside the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
“The brothel is like its own microcosm, it is a city in a city.” Hoyn told NextShark. “In the narrow streets, there are food stalls, tea shops and street vendors. I spent every day from morning till evening in the brothel and some days I forgot where I was. It was sometimes like everyday life in another city with it’s own rules.”
Sex workers in Bangladesh are not treated like normal citizens — they have no freedom or human rights. Girls often come from poverty and are usually victims of trafficking. They are owned by a madam, must pay debts and are not allowed to go outside or keep the money they make.
Meghla, 23, with a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She started working for a garment factory when she was 12 years old. There that she met a man who promised her a better job with more money and he sold her into a brothel.
Meghla, 23, with a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She started working for a garment factory when she was 12 years old. There, she met a man who promised her a better job with more money. He sold her into a brothel.
“Officially, [sex workers] must be 18 years old, but most of them are underage.” Hoyn said. “Some of them take steroids like Oradexon, a drug used by farmers to fatten livestock, to look older and healthier. The most vulnerable stage is when a young sex worker enters the brothel at the beginning as a bonded girl, usually from 12 to 14 years.”
Asma, 14 years, with a customer. She was born int the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
Asma, 14, with a customer. She was born int the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
Asma, 14 years, was born into the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She has stopped attending school because the students harass her because her mother work as sexworker in the brothel. She started working as a sex worker when she was 14 years old. Before she danced in front of customers.
Asma stopped attending school when the students harassed her because her mother worked as a sexworker in the brothel. She started as a sex worker when she was 14 years old. Before that, she danced in front of customers.
Once their debt is repaid, which could take up to five years, they become independent sex workers and are allowed to start refusing customers.
“From the moment that a woman has paid her debts, she is free to leave the brothel.” she said. “But these women are socially stigmatized outside their ‘homes’ and thus often choose to stay and continue supporting their families with their earnings.”
A customer try to kiss Priya, 19, on the cheek. Since she is 17 she is working as a seworker in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
A customer tries to kiss Priya, 19, on the cheek. She began working as a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel at 17.
During the first week of her arrival, Hoyn didn’t take any photos and simply walked around with a translator to observe and talk to locals.
Kajol with her 6 month old baby Mehedi and a customer on her bed. She thinks she is 17 years but does not know her exact age. She was married with 9 years. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. Two weeks after the birth she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby her business is not so good.
Kajol with her 6-month-old baby Mehedi and a customer on her bed. She thinks she is 17, but does not know her exact age. She was married at 9 years old. Her aunt sold her to the Kandapara brothel. Two weeks after the birth, she was forced to have sex again with customers. Because of the baby, her business is not so good.
“At the beginning it was difficult to get access to the women and customers. Some customers didn’t want to be in the photographs, especially those with a rich family. But other customers didn’t care at all about it. Some told me they want to “refresh their mind” inside the brothel and there is nothing wrong with it, so why should they hide?
Pakhi,15 years, with a customer in her room in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. She lives since she is 14 in the brothel. She got married with 12, ran away. A man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel.
Pakhi, 15, with a customer in her room in the Kandapara brothel. She’s lived in the brothel since she was 14. She got married at 12 and ran away shortly after. A man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel.
“Some girls hide their face and didn’t want to tell their stories, others have been very open and wanted to tell about their life.”
The price of the service depends on the age and beauty of each girl, as well as how nice their rooms are. Kandapara’s sex workers earn between 1000-2000 Taka ($11 – 22) daily, which is around 300 Taka ($3) per customer.
Sumaiya, 17, with her boyfriend and regular customer Titu, 23, in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. He is from Dhaka and visits ger every month one week. They are often fighting, because Titu wants to marry her, but she doesn´t want. She is afraid that after marriage he will take away all her money. He is jealous, because she has sex with many of his friends. Sumaiya is jealous because he has sex with other sexworkers in the brothel.
Sumaiya, 17, with her boyfriend and regular customer Titu, 23, in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. He is from Dhaka and visits her every month for one week.
Sumaiya, 17, in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail. Her boyfriend and regular customer Titu, 23, has beaten her in the face. He is from Dhaka and visits ger every month one week. They are often fighting, because Tutu wants to marry her, but she doesn´t want. She is afraid that after marriage he will take away all her money. He is jealous, because she has sex with many of his friends. Sumaiya is jealous because he has sex with other sexworkers in the brothel.
Sumaiya gets beaten in the face by Titu. They are often fighting because Titu wants to marry her, but she refuses. She is afraid that after marriage he will take away all her money. He is jealous because she has sex with many of his friends. Sumaiya is jealous because he has sex with other sexworkers in the brothel.
“Most of them have sad stories — but they are really strong, at least outwardly. I admire that they manage their lives under these circumstances and do not give up. They are not just survivors or victims, they are fighting and enjoying their life in their own way.”
Bonna, 27, a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail, is laughing with a condom in the hand. When she was 7 years old she was raped by her stepfather. She run away from home with 10 years as a man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel. She has two regularly customers. On average she earn 1500 Taka (19 $) per day.
Bonna, 27, a sexworker in the Kandapara brothel, is laughing with a condom in her hand. When she was 7 years old, she was raped by her stepfather. She ran away from home at 10 and a man picked her off the street and sold her into a brothel. She has two regular customers. On average, she earns 1500 Taka (19 $) per day.
“When the women have free time, they danced and laughed together. They are joking with each other, kidding the customers. The girls are very lively and cheerful. Often they forget their sadness. They still have dreams.”
Papia, 18, with two customers on the bed in the Kandapara brothel. Her parents died when she was a child, she was married young. Her husband and she took heroin, she has been in jail because of this. She says that the jail was the best place she has ever been, because nobody beats her there. In the jail she got to know a woman who brought her later to the brothel.
Papia, 18, with two customers on the bed in the Kandapara brothel. Her parents died when she was a child and she was married young. She and her husband began doing heroin until she was put in jail. She says that the jail was the best place she has ever been because nobody beats her there. In the jail she got to know a woman who later brought her to the brothel.
“Most women have the dream to earn enough money in the brothel to buy their own house outside when they are old, and they want to not be dependent on men. They want to earn enough money to give their children a good school education at least. They want them to have a better future than they did.
Priya, 19, is teasing a friend and try to beat him, but not seriously. She is working as a sex worker since she is 17.
Priya, 19, is teasing a friend by trying to beat him, but not seriously.
“Many women have their ‘boyfriends,’ or regular customers who pay them. I know one woman who has turned down the marriage proposals of her most faithful client because she doesn’t trust that he will let her keep her money. She’d rather maintain her independence as a sex worker.
Used condoms outside the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
Used condoms outside the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
“I met a woman in the brothel, she worked in a garment factory before. There she met a woman who told her about a more lucrative job. On her own wish, she started working in the brothel and doesn´t want to leave because it´s a good place to earn money, she says.”
Dipa, 26 years, is crying. She is in the 2nd month pregnant from a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
Dipa, 26 years, is crying. She is in the second month pregnant from a customer in the Kandapara brothel in Tangail.
All photos copyrighted by Sandra Hoyn.
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