Fred Aminga and Mutwiri Muriithi @PeopleDailyKE
Nairobi was yesterday a city under siege as confusion ensued following a directive for Passenger Service Vehicles (PSVs) to terminate operations outside the Central Business District (CBD) started to bite, bringing the town to a complete standstill with traffic snarl-ups lasting into the night.
In the impasse, thousands of commuters approaching the CBD through Jogoo Road, Thika Road, Westlands and Uhuru Highway had to walk from the newly designated stages. The directive from Nairobi County Government follows ongoing efforts to change the city into a more functional and organised city by locking out PSVs from the capital’s centre.
But what the County government considered a solution to traffic congestion which gobbles up billions of shillings in lost productivity, fuel and the physical and mental torture borne with traffic jam, seems to have made matters worse on day one.
Most matatu operators who usually make at least three trips before the crack of dawn said they lost several man hours as they were not able to ferry enough people who were afraid to alight at the designated stages which are further away from the CBD.
This led to a pile up of vehicles as city dwellers drove to the CBD by private means, jamming roads all day. Going by the number of hours people spent in traffic jam it would be safe to assume that Nairobi has failed to create a transport system that can move people from the new stages to the CBD.
Apart from matatu owners and employees who lost man power during the day, some large retailers felt the pinch of relocated bus stops. In their business plans, most malls whose anchor tenants are retailers are strategically located near bus stops so that commuters can easily shop and carry baggage home.
However, with the new changes, the business will be taken elsewhere as commuters change their purchasing points.
However, Retail Trade Association of Kenya chief executive Wambui Mbarire said they are yet to feel the impact, but the move could affect the amount of shopping as people will be walking out of town.“What we will be looking into is size of the shopping basket,” she said.
While this means that revelers patronising entertainment joints next to bus stops might change lifestyle and opt for joints closer home. Taxi drivers will have a field day moving commuters from the out town stages into the heart of the city.
The Kenya Railway terminus was full of life as more people opted for the train which terminates services closer to the CBD. Traders stationed at Muthurwa and Ngara markets could see their fortunes change drastically if the new changes stick. Sandra Wanjiru, a vendor at Fig Tree, Ngara admitted that while the ban had sent her business packing from Khoja stage to the reserved Ngara terminus, her business had done quite well yesterday with increased demand for snacks, water and soft at the terminus.
“Let them come here. This is why Muthurwa was constructed,” said Peter Tosh, a trader at Muthurwa Market.
In the CBD, traders situated in stalls said the city is cleaner and they are benefiting from the ban as they are finding it easier to attract customers.
Joseph Kiama, a stall owner at World Business Centre lauded the move to deny matatus access into the CBD.
“This will now enable me advertise my goods since matatus were parked outside my shop inhibiting visibility of goods on display,” he said, noting that it would stop noise pollution caused by incessant blaring of matatu horns and shouting by touts.