Cabinet Minister in Kenya credited with streamlining the chaotic Public transport sector popularly known as ‘Matatu’ industry John Michuki died of a heart attack on Tuesday night at the age of 80. The Minister, who was a close political ally of President Kibaki, died at the Intensive Care Unit of the Aga Khan Hospital, Heart and Cancer centre, Nairobi on Tuesday night.
Michuki who was until his death, the Kenyan Environment Minister, was taken ill on Sunday morning two days after returning from a London Hospital, where he had been undergoing treatment since December last year and admitted at the Aga Khan hospital after he was rushed there in critical condition.
The Government had to clarify on Monday evening that the Minister was still alive after rumours circulated in the social sites and in the streets of Nairobi that he had died. The Government through its spokesman Mr. Alfred Mutua stated in a press statement that Michuki was alive and responding well to treatment at the hospital.
President Mwai Kibaki who left last night for London to attend a conference on stabilizing Somalia broke the news of Michuki`s death and eulogized him as leader who will be remembered as a focused public servant, determined businessman and issue oriented politician.
The late Michuki was instrumental during his tenure as the Minister for Transport in bringing order to the “Matatu” industry sector by imposing tough regulations for owners and crews, popularly known as the Michuki Rules. He made sure the matatus carry only 14 passengers, drivers and conductors wear uniforms for identification, and the vehicles had speed governors and have a yellow line to identify them as public service vehicles.
At a time when he served as the Minister for Internal Security he issued a shoot to kill order to the Police on the members of the outlawed Mungiki sect who had waged a spate of criminal activities in Central, Nairobi and Parts of Rift Valley Provinces.
Perhaps the most contentious issue surrounding Michuki is the infamous ‘Shoot-to-Kill’ order against the out-lawed Mungiki sect, which he is alleged to have directed the police while he served as the Minister for Internal Security. Human Rights groups condemned the order citing that it contravened both the Police Act and general Human Rights guaranteed by the constitution. He denies the allegation and says that they are attacks by his political rivals. Michuki is alleged to have ordered the raid on the Standard Media Group in February 2007. He sparked more protest when he declared that “when you rattle a snake you must be prepared to be bitten.” In another controversial report investigating the conduct of the Artur Brothers that was made public, Michuki is alleged to have made contact with them. He categorically denies.