New rules to keep matatu's out of the city centre

Traffic in Nairobi (Photo Courtesy)

Nairobi County has moved to ban all public service vehicles from accessing the Central Business District (CBD) in a drastic move that will see some 36 intercity routes that will only be allowed to wait for passengers for a maximum of 10 minutes in the city centre.

In one of its most drastic policies since the inception of its government in 2013, the county administration which has been accused of failing to deal with traffic congestion, has decided that commuters apart from those coming in from Mombasa Road and Ngong Road, will alight outside town, some as far as Westlands.

This is reminiscent of the early 2000s when a similar policy was attempted after construction of the Muthurwa bus terminus but the plan collapsed due to lack of enforcement. In a gazette notice, County Public Secretary Robert Ayisi introduced two new City Centre routes that will ferry passengers around the CBD in high capacity buses.

The new rules also ban passengers travelling from up country from being dropped in the CBD. Those coming from Western Kenya will alight in Ngara while those coming from north of Nairobi will be dropped on Murang’a road.

Intercity route

The intercity buses whose mode of operation will be similar to the Kenya Bus Service in the 80s and 90s will ferry passengers to destinations located on opposite sides of town without the need to alight in order to board a connecting vehicle.

For instance, on route number 42 set to be introduced, a passenger will be able to board the vehicle at Kikuyu if he wants to go to Maringo.

On route 50, a passenger would board a bus along Mombasa Road and alight on Outering Road or Thika Road. Then on route 29, a passenger boarding at Mwiki can still and still end up at the Kenyatta National hospital.

Ayisi says that all buses on the intercity route must have a minimum seating capacity of 51 and that stakeholders have been notified on the new regulations.

“We can only decongest the city by preventing vehicles from coming to town,” he told Sunday Standard.

“We are meeting on Monday to discuss the regulations with all stakeholders since they already know then we implement immediately,” he said.

The Matatu Owners Association through its Chair Simon Kimutai however said the county had not involved them as stakeholders before coming up with the regulations, and that the planned move will create a lot of friction.

“We have had thousands of plans but all of them bring confusion. Matatu routes are determined by the National Transport and Safety Authority and not the county,” he said.

While Kimutai welcomed the idea of having intercity routes he was against making people alight out of town. “When you tell people to alight in Westlands for example, do they have wings to fly into the CBD,” he posed. A ban on matatus entering the CBD given in August last year was ignored.

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