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Matatu operators in row over new Nakuru bus terminus

RIFT VALLEY
By Kennedy Gachuhi | November 14th 2021

Central Rift Matatu Owners Association chairman Stephen Muli with other Matatu officials at the site of the new Nakuru bus terminus in Nakuru town on November 14, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

A row has erupted over the distribution of the spaces to Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) operators at the newly constructed Nakuru bus terminus.

The new terminus, constructed by the county government, is to be officially opened on December 1 by Governor Lee Kinyanjui to accommodate the matatu operators evicted from the town centre in March 2020.

The matatus and buses have been operating from three different termini in the outskirts of Nakuru town after the county government relocated the operators in a bid to decongest the Central Business District.

Following their eviction from the CBD, the operators held a series of protests, most of which ended in violence and running battles between them and the police.

The county government leased land from Kenya Railways along Geoffrey Kamau way on which the new Sh75 million terminus sits.

The over 8,000 operators, spread among 86 savings and credit cooperative societies (Saccos), have recently been sharply divided by local politics, with some allied to Governor Kinyanjui and others linked to Senator Susan Kihika.

Last week, county government officials inspected the project. The officials were accompanied by a splinter faction of the matatu operators led by former Central Rift Matatu Owners Association vice-chair Peter Wambugu.

“We are glad that the county government has expedited this project to allow normal operations to resume. The new terminus is a great milestone towards reviving our business,” said Wambugu.

Michael Nyoro, a stakeholder, noted that moving the matatus to the new terminus will also be a reprieve for the clients who had to trek for long distances to access public transport at the temporary termini.

“We welcome those who have been fighting the county government for dialogue. They should swallow their pride and join us,” said Nyoro.

The exclusion of a faction led by the recently re-elected chairperson Stephen Muli sparked outrage, with the operators demanding an equal share of the available space at the new terminus.

Muli led his faction to the terminus for an inspection tour before the police and county enforcement officers ejected them.

“We are aware of plans by the other faction working with county government to irregularly distribute space at the new stage. We demand a fair share of the stage among all Saccos,” said Muli.

He accused the county government of driving a wedge between the association members by engaging the operators through a splinter faction led by persons recently voted out.

“We demand equal treatment regardless of our divergent political affiliation,” said Muli.

Muli said the distribution of spaces at the terminus among the Saccos should be done through a secret ballot to foster confidence among the operators and keep off influence by county officials.

But Governor Kinyanjui has assured the operators that the county government will fairly distribute the available space to the operators.

“Urban planning matters are professional undertakings not guided by narrow political interests. We cannot thrive in chaos. We shall continue to plan and implement our decisions based on the long-term interest of the residents of Nakuru,” said Kinyanjui.

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