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Govt to set aside lanes for buses on city roads

The transport regulator has backed an initiative by the National Youth Service to introduce buses on selected routes in Nairobi and told off matatu operators who are afraid of being driven out of business.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) told a Senate committee handling a complaint by matatu operators against the move that plans to have lanes set aside for the Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) are at an advanced stage.

NTSA boss Francis Mejja said NYS has been given a three-month licence to operate on city roads as it tests its plan.

“Fare payment is not regulated and, if the government decides that this is a problem we must solve, then it is upon the government,” said Mr Mejja.

Public Service Cabinet Secretary Prof Margaret Kobia told the committee, chaired by Kiambu Senator Kimani Wamatangi, that the NYS has deployed 24 of its 27 buses on nine routes.

“Going forward and beginning this week, the government will isolate dedicated expressways to fast-track buses to and from specified destinations” said Prof Kobia.

She said the Sh20 charged is enough to fuel and service the buses and the ministry is in talks with the Treasury to increase the number of buses.


“Unless Nairobi gets mass transport, all these are short-term measures. After we acquire 20 more buses, we’ll be able to say how sustainable this is,” she added.

Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet said the plan to set aside the lanes for the PSVs has been in the works for some time and will come to fruition soon.

“That is an exercise that is going on and we are in full support of the initiative launched by NYS under Operation Okoa Abiria. Over Easter, Kenha did a study to establish which lanes can be dedicated for use by PSVs. Not just NYS but all PSVs,” said Mr Boinnet.

The Senate team is considering a petition by Matatu Owners Association, which protested against the initiative launched on March 23.

Mr Simon Kimutai, the chairman of the association, had questions on licensing and insurance of the buses, which were answered by Mr Mejja.

He equated the introduction of the buses to unfair business practices as the fare on the subsidised buses is Sh20 per ride.

“This is an industry that has already put in billions and what we’re seeing is disruption because of weather. We have over 20,000 buses in the city and I wonder whether NYS did any study before they deployed. If they are here to help, they should be free. Now, they are undercutting,” said Mr Kimutai.