The plan to decongest Nairobi City by moving bus termini outside the CBD has been met with sharp criticism from the matatu and bodaboda stakeholders who say they will not flinch.
Speaking to KTN news, Matatu and bodaboda operators Federation of Kenya National Chairman Kushian Muchiri said that even though the NMS has a good vision for Nairobi; it is still blind to the reality that matatus are not a nuisance to Nairobi’s transport system.
“As a federation, we are saying we are not moving out of the CBD. What we need to do is like all other developing countries. Let’s embrace the public transport system. We need to deal with the real issue here. The real issue is that everyone is now using their private vehicles,” said Muchiri.
Pointing to dozens of personal vehicles and matatus plying Mombasa road, during the interview, Muchiri opposed to the restriction as he said that Kenyans had been forced to walk more than 2 kilometers to the CBD. He asked the NMS to call the federation for a meeting to find a lasting solution that will not hurt anyone.
“Wanjiku has to trek all the way from Ngara to the CBD. Why are we being so unfair? If he (NMS Director-General Mohamed Badi) meets us, we will be able to tell him what really needs to be done,” said Muchiri.
The Federation’s Secretary-General Calvin Nyaure also expressed optimism in the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) which he said will not come to replace matatus. BRT is a system of roadways that are dedicated to buses and give priority to buses at intersections where the buses may interact with other traffic.
“We can incorporate the matatus that we have currently to the BRT system where they follow the system systematically and it goes with times,” said Nyaure.
However, this is not the first attempt of trying to remove matatus from the CBD to solve the traffic problem in the capital.
When he was minister of local government in 2008, President Uhuru Kenyatta made a futile attempt by banning all matatus and buses from the city center.
In 2015, former Nairobi governor Evans Kidero tried his luck by forming a task force of all relevant stakeholders in the transport sector. Even though the public weighed in through their views and a gazette notice designating termini was issued, the governor left office with Matatus still in the city.
Governor Mike Sonko also took a try at it in December 2018 leaving many Nairobi residents suffering from the long walk into the city.
“What makes Badi think that by making this quick fix he is going to remove matatu’s out of the CBD?” asked Mr Nyaure.
According to the NMS plans, the implementation of the project will have matatus currently using Jogoo Road and Haile Selassie Avenue end their journey at Muthurwa, while those using Lang’ata and Mombasa roads end at Railway Golf land along Uhuru Highway.
Matatus operating the Thika Superhighway will park at the newly completed Ngara and Parklands termini.
An expressway will be set up running from the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union near the Wakulima Market stretching to Jogoo Road.
With the vision of truly solving the vicious traffic problem in Nairobi NMS has plans to rehabilitate and reintroduce the use of traffic lights and signals.
All eyes are on the military man turned administrator as he takes on one of the toughest headaches that his predecessors at city hall have failed to solve.