Petrol stations across Nairobi continue to serve as passenger pick-up and drop-off points as well as parking spots for matatus despite the ban by City Hall more than 10 days ago.
The city’s Director of Parking Services Tom Tinega announced a ban against public service vehicles parking in and operating from petrol stations.
A spot check by The Standard shows that multiple petrol stations across the city run by different companies were providing parking and other related services to matatus, against the order the county government.
At Tom Mboya Street, one of the busiest termini in the city, droves of passengers waited inside the PSV waiting bays as matatus chaotically moved in and out of the station, dropping passengers as others fill up with different passengers.
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Despite its sheer size and sometimes disorderly nature, the bustling petrol station is one of the city’s busiest termini, serving five long-distance matatu saccos, including Transline Classic, Ena Coach and Kinatwa Sacco, transporting hundreds of travellers to and from Nairobi each day.
The petrol station parks over ten matatus with most of them picking passengers. Its popularity is propelled by its easily accessible location at the intersection of Tom Mboya Street and Haile Selassie Avenue.
At Odeon in the city centre, buses belonging to Lopha Sacco drop passengers inside the station, as some remain parked on the sides.
On October 3, Tinega, through a notice, announced a ban against public service vehicles parking in petrol stations in Nairobi County, citing safety concerns.
“This is to notify all the petrol station owners that the county will no longer allow PSVs (matatus) to park inside the petrol station. This is a disaster in waiting. This notice takes effect immediately,” wrote Tinega.
“We are not aware of the directive. We haven’t heard it,” two employees at a petrol station along Jogoo Road told Standard during an earlier spot check, conducted during the weekend.
At the station, several off-duty buses were parked.
“Mostly the matatus park here when they are off duty and at night,” one of the attendants, who declined to disclose his name because he lacked official authority to speak, told Standard.
Several attendants at the stations visited by Standard said they were unaware of the directive by the county government.
Even senior personnel such as supervisors told The Standard they were not aware that the county government had issued a directive banning the parking of PSVs in the stations.
Ms. Janet Nzilani, a supervisor at Oil Libya Petrol Station in Buruburu, said she had not heard of the directive.
Mercy Syombua, who works at one of the petrol stations run by Hashi, revealed that the free parking offered to PSVs is a huge incentive to matatu saccos that seek services at petrol stations. Hashi Petrol Station, for instance, offers free parking to its frequent PSV customers, who are mostly KBS and Citi Hoppa buses.
Many saccos also have offices at the petrol stations.
While the ban against parking in petrol stations presents a challenge to matatus, many of the matatu operators told Standard that they will find ways to cope with the ban if effected by the county government.
“Parking will not be an issue. Saccos like Double M have their own parking zones and some matatu owners usually organize for private parking of their vehicles. Saccos can easily find alternative parking zones for the matatus,” Benson Kyallo, a driver for Umoinner Sacco, which plies the city centre to Umoja route told Standard.
Operators of long-distance PSVs that use petrol stations as termini also told Standard that they not foresee a significant impact of the ban on their operations.
“We have offices in Umoja, Jogoo Road, Fedha, Huruma, Kangemi, Uthiru and Eastleigh and all of them have space to carry and drop passengers so we will use those ones,” Edward Nyachochi, who works with Transline Sacco, which operates from Nairobi to areas like Kisumu and Kisii, told Standard.
Another employee at ENA Coach, who chose to conceal his identity as he lacked authority, told The Standard that the company has another terminus at Wakulima Market, which they intend to use if the county government kicks them out of the petrol station at Afya Centre.
Even as the PSV operators welcomed the move, they explained that the directive will affect the revenue of petrol stations and the county government.
“Operating from this space is very costly. The petrol station collects over Shs 300,000 per month from all the saccos that park here, so if we move out we will save money. It is the petrol stations that will bear the toll,” the ENA employee told Standard.
“We will use parking spaces outside the CBD, so we won’t have to pay for seasonal parking tickets. Usually, small matatus pay Ksh 3,650 per month while buses pay Kshs 7,200 monthly, and you find one sacco has more than 100 vehicles. The revenue of the county government will definitely be affected,” an ENA Coach driver told Standard.
However, Tinega clarified to The Standard on Tuesday that the directive only affects PSVs using petrol stations as termini and not those that use the stations for overnight parking.
“We only allow those parking for overnight stay but not for transport purposes,” Tinega said.
Tinega also clarified that the directive will be enforced by Wednesday, explaining that the county government had delayed the enforcement to allow saccos time to make alternative arrangements for parking.
However, some of the PSV operators faulted the county government for pushing them out of petrol stations without providing them alternative parking spots.