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Cash crunch pushes NYS bus project to a screeching halt

By Moses Nyamori | February 19th 2021

The National Youth Service commuter bus has suspended its operations after facing a cash crunch.

It has emerged that the programme dubbed Okoa Abiria, which was a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta, did not have a budgetary allocation to finance its operations.

Public Service Principal Secretary Mary Kimonye has told the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that the service has since been stopped as the Sh20 charged per trip could not sustain its running.

Uhuru had directed introduction of the NYS buses to various routes in Nairobi to address the public transport crisis in the capital city.

But most of the buses were grounded after they broke down and could not be repaired due to lack of funds.

“This was a presidential directive to aid citizens when the transport sector had a crisis. The observation by the audit office is factual since the buses have reduced from 27 to nine,” said Kimonye.

“The Sh20 fare transport charge could not meet operational costs hence putting the sustainability of the project at stake,” she explained. The service was charging a flat rate irrespective of the distance.

According to the Auditor General's report, the program started with 27 buses but ended up with nice in operation after 18 broke down.

“The programme further had no budgetary provision to fund the maintenance of the buses and other operational costs, and no subsidy funds have so far been received for the project,” states the report.

Launched in March 2018, the buses served commuters plying the Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi and Kawangware routes.

National Assembly had in 2018 approved a Sh500 million allocation to the service to acquire more buses.

Then NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai had described the ambitious project as a solution to the chaotic public transport, especially in densely populated estates in Nairobi.

Plans were underway to increase the commuter buses to 50 to enhance their efficiency. 

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