13 April 2014

Kenya: Nairobi County Bus Plan Rattles Matatu Owners

Nairobi — The Matatu Welfare Association on Sunday faulted the planned purchase of higher occupancy metro buses by the Nairobi City County, saying that they should have been involved in the project.

According to the association's Secretary General Simon Mbugua, county officials ought to have allowed bus owners to invest in the purchase of the new buses instead of buying their own.

"This is a scheme of which we were not involved. We should be given a chance to invest in the companies that are bringing in those high occupancy buses."

"Of course they should also look into how they will compensate the 14 and 25 seater matatus now that they are bringing in these new ones," Mbugua argued.

Mbugua further warned that bus owners would go at a loss as most of them had taken loans to purchase new vehicles saying that they need time to finish paying their loans.

The Secretary General further advised the county to instead work with the current PSV owners to streamline the public transport system.

Nairobi Governor Dr Evans Kidero will in July unveil the first tranche of 200 vehicles expected to revolutionise public transport in a city currently being run down by matatu industry cartels.

The high occupancy buses will expected to ferry passengers within the Nairobi Central Business District to ease congestion.

John Muindi a member of the association accused the government of sabotaging their efforts to comply with the digital speed governors as a means of buying themselves time to purchase the new buses.

"Every bus owner is making the effort to follow the new law on the digital speed governors but we cannot find them... we have paid in money at the banks but we are yet to have them delivered."

"Now they are telling us that there are new buses that are coming in, that seems like sabotage. There are no (speed) governors so we have had to park our vehicles as we wait, now there are new buses that are coming in," Muindi argued.

Muindi alleged that the plan to buy the new buses was hatched by a few people in both the County and National government who will benefit from them.

On March 31, there was a backlog at the Motor Vehicle Inspection Unit in Nairobi as thousands of Public Service Vehicle owners struggled to beat the deadline to comply with new safety regulations.

Following the inspection, which among other things seeks to establish if the vehicles are fitted with digital speed governors, the PSVs were due to be issued with a compliance certificate by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA).

Many vehicle owners told Capital FM News that there were undue delays since some of them had not been attended to, several hours after reporting for the inspection.

The NTSA Director of Motor Vehicle Inspection Gerald Wangai indicated that the congestion was as a result of a last minute rush by the operators who had three months within which their vehicles would undergo inspection.

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