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Matatu operators tell NMS to involve stakeholders in city decongestion plans

Matatu operators in Nairobi argue that the plan by Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) to relocate public service vehicles (PSVs) from the city centre is hurried and could fail.

The operators said the test run at the Green Park terminus, the alternative venue offered for their vehicles, on Tuesday signaled the challenges ahead.

Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai said the test run, which he said was shambolic, showed the decongestion plan had not been well-thought-out and faces similar failures as others that have been done before.

Kimutai said stakeholders in the transport industry with an understanding of traffic flow in Nairobi need to be brought on board and not “cartels” pretending to be stakeholders.

“From the word go, I have predicted failure. It is what happens when you decide to do something you are not familiar with and you leave out stakeholders and only embrace cartels who just want to cash in the plan,” said Kimutai.

“NMS decided to go the military way where there are no consultations. We were ignored and I am sure we would have given out solutions,” he added.

The MOA boss said that there are over 20,000 matatus terminating their journey in Nairobi city centre and having only seven termini to hold the matatus yet there are no holding grounds for the matatus as they wait for commuters is a “joke of the century”.

“All vehicles terminate their journey in the city centre and they will need a holding ground as they wait for commuters. They should go back to the drawing board, involve stakeholders and technocrats because transport success is about reliability and proper planning,” he said.

Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) chairperson Dickson Mbugua echoed Kimutai’s sentiments saying there are more than 3,000 vehicles intended to operate at Green Park yet the terminal can only hold 200 matatus at a time.

He further pointed out that there are no enough dropping and picking up points for the vehicles as well as safety issues for the commuters once they are dropped off.

“There is no clear connectivity from the terminal to the city centre and beyond. How do they get to their places of work or business? We cannot rely on boda boda forever. I don’t know if they will dig an underpass or construct an overpass to address this,” posed Mbugua.

Mr Kimutai further pointed accusing fingers at the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) for  licensing new PSVs to different routes in the city without carrying out a need analysis to ascertain whether there is a need for more matatus in the routes resulting in the current mayhem.

“NTSA has no data of how many vehicles are needed in a particular place. They just keep on licensing everyone who thinks matatu industry has money,” he said.

Kimutai said the way forward is to invest in holding grounds and other operational systems as well as introducing cross-city services to ease the congestion by having the matatus spread out.

“Why don’t you license me to take people from Ngong, drop them in town then proceed with my journey? Somebody in Ngong who wants to go to Buruburu will board the bus and it will keep moving. But when we all have to drop our passengers in the city centre, we will wait for the ones to carry back,” said the MOA boss.