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Showdown looms in city as PSVs ban takes effect

Alvin Mwangi and James Magayi @PeopleDailyKe

A showdown looms this morning as matatu operators have vowed to defy an order by County Government of Nairobi banning Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) from accessing the city centre.

Less than a month after the reintroduction of the highly restrictive “Michuki rules”, matatu operators will face off with the county government over plans to keep them off the city centre where they drop off a majority of commuters.

On Thursday, City Hall announced that PSVs  will not be allowed into the Central Business District (CBD) to pick up or drop off passengers. A notice from the acting County Secretary Pauline Kahiga  said the notice will take effect today.

However, the operators have questioned how effective the order  will be implemented as the designated areas are facing a myriad of challenges; the biggest being insecurity, space and lack of social amenities.

Disorderly and punitive

Similar sentiments were expressed by Matatu Welfare Association chair Dickson Mbugua who said the current termini are in bad condition as most of them lack security lights and bed carpeting, a situation that will only worsen if all vehicles are forced to drop off passengers outside the city.

Three legislators yesterday urged the county government to allow operators in the CBD until a new plan on public transport system is devised.

Starehe MP Charles Kanyi alias (Jaguar), Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu) and Benjamin Gathiru of Embakasi Central took issue with the implementation of the plan terming it disorderly and punitive.

  “It is a recipe for chaos. We cannot purport to create order in a disorderly manner. This plan is a failure even before it starts and it will increase the already high cost of living for poor families reliant on matatus. The county government should shelve this plan forthwith and come up with a sound and workable public transport system,” Ichung’wa said at PEFA church in South B yesterday.

“A commuter from my constituency in Kikuyu pays Sh100 to Nairobi but they will have to spend more because when they are forced to alight in Ngara, they have to board a shuttle to town and that is an additional cost. Kenyans are already overtaxed and do not need these costly gimmicks,” he added.

The legislators also cited insecurity around the designated terminuses as another concern the county ought to have reviewed before coming up with such plans.

Jaguar called for further consultations. “The county should build and improve the bus terminuses in Nairobi because matatus don’t cause traffic jams,” he said. 

A spot check by People Daily revealed the challenges the ban is likely to face. A terminus such as Muthurwa has been turned into a hawkers’ turf, forcing PSVs to look for alternatives.

Most of the designated termini can only accommodate 500 vehicles as most of them have 500 parking slots, which are few compared to the 20,000 PSVs which the operators say ply Nairobi.

“ From where I sit, there is no way this ban will be effected. We need to be realistic sometimes, what is the capacity of Fig Tree and Muthurwa terminus,” Simon Kimutai, Matatu Owners Association chair said.

Sustainability

He claimed they were not consulted when the decision was made.

The public too has waded into the ban with mixed reactions with some supporting the ban as others say they will be forced to trek for long distances thereby inconveniencing them.

“I am happy that at least more order will be brought into our city. My concern is how sustainable will the ban be”, said Brian Nyaga a commuter on Jogoo road.

But for Sophia Wangari, the ban is all about harassing commuters.

Efforts to get a comment from the City Inspectorate Department  director of Operations at Peter Mbaya did not bear fruit as he said that he will not comment on the issue while off duty.  “I cannot comment on the issue for now am not in the office,” he said phone. 

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