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NMS under pressure to end matatu menace

Matatu owners have implored Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) and City Hall to involve genuine matatu operators if they want to restore sanity in the public transport sector in Nairobi.

This comes amid a surge in undesignated matatu pick-up and drop-off points, which has now spilled over to the estates.

The illegal stages have now moved from the city centre to estates with roundabouts in Kariobangi and John Osogo Road in Dandora worst affected.

In Nairobi’s city centre, Tom Mboya Street all the way from Afya Centre to Khoja stage, parts of Mama Ngina Street, Moi Avenue and Ronald Ngala are now under control of the rogue matatu operators.

Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairperson Simon Kimutai blamed the recent increase in the drop-off and pick-up points on “cartels” working at City Hall, who are still running the show even after crossing over to NMS.

He pointed out that the illegal allocations started even before NMS came into the picture as it has been done through collusion between officials from City Hall and a section of “matatu operators.

“Although he has good intentions, it will be very difficult for Mohamed Badi to transform the sector if he continues to ignore the genuine matatu owners in Nairobi,” said Mr Kimutai.

“Issuance of illegal stages has been turned into a cash cow by the officers raking in millions for them. They work with unscrupulous matatu operators to create the unlawful matatu stages. The allocations are done to the highest bidder,” he added.

Pressure is also mounting on City Hall and NMS to put a stop on the illegal matatu stages with Dandora Area 4 MCA Francis Ngesa saying the illegal pick-up and drop-off points continue to put lives of commuters and the general public in danger, as well as posing security challenges as the matatus continue to flout traffic rules with brazen impunity.

He said the trend has also resulted in traffic congestion and snarl ups in the affected areas inconveniencing many people in the process, questioning why county enforcement officers have delayed in doing away with the illegalities and ensure road users adhere to strict traffic guidelines to restore orderliness in the capital city.

“Commuters have been forced to alight at undesignated areas as a result making them susceptible to mugging,” said Mr Ngesa.

Last month Central Ward MCA Daniel Ngegi raised concerns over the high number of illegal pick-up and drop-off points.

A National Transport and Safety Authority data released in February 2020 showed that only 272 matatu Saccos are registered to operate in Nairobi.

However, there are 420 unregistered Saccos operating in the capital raising questions to who licensed them and how they have managed to operate without any questions.

July last year, Nairobi MCAs approved a motion to remove all on-street picking and dropping zones used by the matatus and boda bodas within the city centre after concerns were raised on how the PSVs have illegally turned most streets, and pedestrian walkways into bus stops and parking slot.

In an attempt to control the proliferation of the illegal stages, NMS last year November suspended allocation of new pick-up and drop-off points for matatus in Nairobi. However, despite the suspension, the problem is only getting worse.