NTSA barred from phasing off 14-seater matatus, for now
The High Court has temporarily blocked the National Transport and Safety Authority from bringing to an end licensing of 14-seater matatus.
Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita issued the directive after 24 matatu saccos from Nairobi moved to court to challenge the government’s plan to phase out low-capacity Public Service Vehicles.
They argued that when the directive to have matatus carrying less than 25 passengers phased out was first made in 2014, President Uhuru Kenyatta came to the rescue of matatu operators and suspended it.
As at November 2018, they claimed, the directive had not been implemented and that the suspension resulted to an increase in the number of the said vehicles on Kenyan roads.
Consequently, the judge issued an order suspending a legal notice which requires PSVs whose seating carrying capacity is less than 25 passengers not to be licensed. The directive was to be operational as from January 1, 2016 but has not yet taken effect.
“An order of prohibition is hereby issued until February 15 prohibiting the NTSA from effecting Section 4(2) and 4(3) of Legal notice 179 of December 31, 2014 when processing the Road Service PSV licenses for the petitioners,” said Justice Mwita.
But despite the temporary reprieve for 14 seater matatus, the judge said that he will however issue a comprehensive ruling on February 15, 2019 since the government had already indicated that the first batch of 11 trains and 64 high-capacity commuter buses will arrive in Nairobi around that time.
On December 7, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia indicated that reliance on matatus is not sustainable and linked it to the congestion and disorder which is common in major urban areas such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
He also indicated that the plan will be implemented in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya within a period of two to three years.
But the announcement did not go down well with matatu operators who felt short changed saying that the government plans to replace them with trains and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT).
In case documents filed by the Nairobi matatu saccos, they have accused NTSA of acting contrary to their legitimate expectation.
Through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, they argued that the government is mainly trumping up its employment generations measures as over 200,000 families will consequently remain without income to rely on.
The 24 Nairobi Matatu saccos have sued NTSA, the Attorney General, the Inspector General of Police, Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, the transport CS, the traffic commandant, Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Regional Metropolitan Transport limited.
Uber Chap chap, Taxify and Kenya Taxi Cabs Owners Associations are listed in the case as interested parties.
Matatu operators also want taxi drivers barred from being issued with Road Service Licenses for failing to comply with the yellow band legislation.