NYS buses: Cotu boss speaks out on deployment to city routes
The umbrella body of trade unions has supported the introduction of National Youth Service buses to ferry commuters in Nairobi.
This comes after the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) also backed the deployment of the buses on seven routes across the city.
CAK director general Francis Wang’ombe argued that the NYS buses have not breached any competition laws but were only cushioning a shortage.
Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary general Francis Atwoli said that the new buses will help restore order in the transport system in Nairobi.
“Kenyans and workers have suffered for a long time in the hands of gangs in unorganized and uncontrollable matatu transport system. Once you enter into a matatu, you lose your freedom and your dignity,” said Mr Atwoli on Thursday.
He said that the NYS buses will boost the image of Nairobi City which, Atwoli said, lacks a working public transport system.
“In the whole world, it would only be in Kenya where towns and cities including Nairobi which is our capital city that does not have a public transport system,” he said.
“Passengers have suffered in matatus including losing money as conductors sometimes run away with their change and sexual harassment inside the matatus that has been witnessed in the recent past,” he said.
The NYS buses were introduced in city routes last Friday to help commuters stranded in flooded arears.
The 27 buses charge passengers a flat rate fare of Sh20 in the Nairobi routes including Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi and Kawangware that they operate in.
The introduction of the buses has however been opposed by matatu operators who see it as an act to frustrate their operations.
Matatu Owners Association chair Simon Kimutai and Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua said the move would disrupt the industry leading to loss of investments.
Mr Atwoli also hit out at matatu owners who he accused of being opposed to Cotu’s agitation to have salaries of matatu operators increased.
“Every time Cotu has demanded for workers’ pay rise especially those working in the matatu sector, the matatu operators have been very uncooperative,” he said.