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14-seater matatus to be phased out as early as Valentine’s Day

In less than two months’ time, the ubiquitous 14-seater matatus may be a thing of the past if the Transport ministry implements plan to phase out low-capacity public service vehicles (PSVs).

The Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) James Macharia on Friday said that the first batch of 11 trains and 64 high-capacity commuter buses will arrive in Nairobi in February, 2019.

CS Macharia said reliance on matatus is not sustainable and linked it to the congestion and disorder prevalent in major urban areas such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

“Plans are underway for the implementation of integrated train and high-capacity bus transport system in Kenya,” Mr Macharia said in a statement.


The Transport secretary said the plan will be implemented in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya within a period of two to three years.

But an organisation representing matatu associations and saccos that broke away from the larger Matatu Owners Association has opposed the ministry’s plan to get rid of the popular 14-seater matatus in favour of trains and bus rapid transit (BRT) system.

“This plan will drive us out of business and kill this industry which is a major source of employment for most of our youths,” said Mr Calvin Nyaure, the association’s chairman.

Mr Nyaure accused the national government of involving ‘cartels’ in the planned management of the proposed BRT buses in bid to lock out matatu owners from the business.

“We know that the scheme also involves phasing out the 25- and 35-seater matatus from the roads. This plans involves some cartels who want to benefit from these BRT buses,” said Mr Nyaure.


Mr Nyaure claimed that the National Transport Safety Authority has already stopped renewing Transport Licensing Board licences of 14-seater matatus without giving any reason.

“Some of our members who have sought renewal of their TLB licences have been turned away. We believe this is part of the move to implement the government plan to phase out matatus. Francis Meja should tell us why this is happening,” Mr Nyaure said.

The national government first mooted the plan to phase out the 14-seater matatus in 2014 but it was shelved to give room for more stakeholder consultations after operators claimed they were not involved in the planning process.