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Shop owners count losses as matatus block entries

The conversion of some city streets into matatus stages has resulted in heavy losses for shop owners as the vehicles block customers from entering their businesses.

Traders have been appealing to the Nairobi County Government to bar matatus from streets like Tom Mboya, which has been turned into a pick-up and drop-off terminus.

Recently, the United Business Association, whose members are traders from Nairobi and other parts of the country, wrote to City Hall complaining that the matatus were disrupting business.

Several other organisations have lodged complaints but no action has been taken.

“Business has been poor as people who want to do their shopping after work find it difficult to gain entry as buses are lined up outside, discouraging those on the opposite side of the road to cross,” a manager of a supermarket in Tom Mboya Street said.

Nairobi County Transport Executive, Mohammed Abdullahi people should not just blame City Hall but should suggest ways of addressing the matter.

“We are reviewing the routes for matatus and are also trying to get input from the operators,” he said.

Mr Abdullahi said the county government will soon designate stopping areas for matatus and buses outside the city centre as a long-term plan to decongest Nairobi.

The county government also said it is making efforts to end the traffic gridlocks in Nairobi by getting rid of roundabouts and replacing them with signalised intersections.

From about 5pm when people are going home after work, there is chaos on almost all the streets on the eastern side of Tom Mboya Street where matatus and buses compete to pick up passengers.

Crossing the crowded street is a risky business even with the presence of traffic police as the matatus break all the traffic rules as they rush to take available parking spaces.