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City hall move splits matatu owners

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 4 – A new directive by the Nairobi City Council seeking to bar Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) from the city centre has drawn mixed reactions from two matatu associations.

The Matatu Welfare Association (MOA) says that it is still opposed to the directive which takes effect later this week.

According to the decree, all PSVS from upcountry will have to end their journey at designated termini outside the CBD.

The association’s chairman Dickson Mbugua stated that the directive was discriminatory
“We are not satisfied because why can they isolate matatus only and leave buses that operate along the same route?” he posed.

“When such a directive comes, it should be pro-people and then obviously the grounds should be in close proximity to the CBD,” he added.

He further pointed out that the size of the termini cannot accommodate the high number of public service vehicles.

 “The respective routes have not received any communications from the town clerk to that effect,” he said.

“The Westlands grounds are small and cannot even cater for fifty matatus and bearing in mind that the affected routes have over 250 vehicles in between them,” he said.

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The Matatu Owners Association (MOA) on the other hand welcomed the newly drafted regulations.

Chairman Simon Kimutai said the initiative would ensure proper and efficient service provision to city residents.

He however wants City Hall to increase parking space at the termini and ensure all operators are treated equally.

“The regulations are good. We must be able to treat every player equally. Let the council come up with proper structures and space that will allow all vehicles to terminate their journeys at designated spots,” he explained.

The MOA chairman called on any aggrieved matatu operator to use dialogue in a bid to resolve the row.

“If you cannot hear and understand them by dialogue, then they will have to use other means to make you understand. We do not want to get to such scenarios since it will hurt both us and the economic development of this country,” he cautioned.

As a result of the new rules, matatus operating on 18 routes to upcountry destinations will end their journeys at Westlands.
The Westlands terminus also handles matatus from Kileleshwa, Kangemi, Uthiru, Kinoo and Kikuyu.
The terminus has six bays, some of which are being used by matatus from Bomet and Kilgoris that heeded the last directive.

Mr Kimutai said that by selectively applying strategies to ease congestion, the council could hurt business.

He said that given that some of the operators work throughout the night, town service matatus might be ineffective in ferrying travellers into the City Centre.

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