NYS buses stall after running out of money

A National Youth Service bus along Racecourse Road in Nairobi. [George Njunge, Standar

Eighteen National Youth Service (NYS) buses deployed to serve commuters in Nairobi have been grounded, just one year after the programme was launched.

A report tabled before the National Assembly by Auditor General Edward Ouko has revealed that fewer than 10 of the buses are still operational.

The programme dubbed Okoa Abiria was launched in March last year to serve commuters on the Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi and Kawangware routes. The fare was only Sh20.

“The programme had 27 buses earmarked for implementation. As at the time of audit, only nine buses were still operational while 18 had broken down and were grounded,” says Mr Ouko in an audit report on the National Youth Service Mechanical and Transport Fund.

The programme was aimed at alleviating the transport crisis in the city’s densely populated areas during peak periods by charging heavily subsidised fares to passengers.

Budgetary provision

Ouko criticised the programme after it emerged that it was started without any budgetary provision to fund the maintenance of the buses and other operational costs.

He explained that despite the bus service being subsidised, there were no subsidy funds to sustain the programme.

During the launch, then NYS Director General Richard Ndubai had described the project as a long-term plan to resolve the city’s transport crisis.

He even assured the public that there would be an additional 50 buses to serve other routes within Nairobi.

The NYS Mechanical Transport Fund is also on the spot for borrowing over Sh1.1 billion in a questionable manner for the maintenance and repair of its vehicles and equipment.

According to the report, the amount was borrowed by the State Department for Public Service and Youth without appropriate authority.

Ouko says the department is yet to refund Sh635 million, and that the amounts have not been reflected in its financial statement for the 2017/2018 financial year.