Kenya: What Kenyans Think of Nairobi Matatu Ban

Commuters walk to work in the CBD after being dropped off at the Railways terminus on December 3, 2018.
3 December 2018

Nairobi residents and travellers arriving to the capital early Monday morning from upcountry were among the hardest hit by City Hall decision to ban picking and dropping off of passengers in the Central Business District (CBD).

Besides these groups, traders at matatu termini are expected to make less earnings from their businesses since they rely heavily on the human traffic from passengers alighting and boarding vehicles.

Those arriving from upcountry usually carry heavy sacks and cartons of foodstuff especially during the December festive season besides their normal luggage, and a number of them were seen stranded at various bus stations as they tried to figure out how to reach their destinations on the outskirts of the city.

Kenyans expressed mixed reactions on social media on the implementation of the ban by Governor Mike Sonko's leadership.

'POORLY PLANNED'

A section of Kenyans on Twitter complained that the idea of driving public service vehicles out of town was poorly planned and is a recipe for chaos in the city's public transport sector.

"It's brilliant but not now. As of today, it's a populist move to look like he (Sonko) is 'working'. Truth be told, banning matatus won't end the public transport mess in the city," @GrayMarwa said on Twitter.

Another Twitter user @geonal captured the sentiments of residents and visitors arriving from towns outside the city, exclaiming: "Arrived at Easy Coach Railways at 5.30am with personal mzigo (luggage) and someone expects me to lug it all the way to Fig Tree?"

But @juniormarto had some advice for those coming from upcountry: "Fam, I just wanna ask (sic) those at home just don't carry any luggage... we're officially a walking nation."

Other residents who reside on the east part of the city and have to connect to several buses to get to work beyond the CBD couldn't bear the thought of having to walk all the way from the new terminus in Muthurwa, then past the town centre to the new terminus.

"I'm just stressed with this whole CBD ban. So from City Stadium Roundabout (Muthurwa) am I expected to fly up to Fig Tree? Or how does one commute from Doni to Lavi (Donholm to Lavington)?" asked @janngugi.

'WALKING HEALTHY'

But on the other hand, others praised the ban saying that it will assist in maintaining order within the city centre.

Proponents also claimed that it is about time Nairobi residents embraced the idea of walking longer distances for their personal health benefits.

"I'm glad that city hall has finally woken up to the fact that Nairobi needs renaissance. We can't have people being dropped off at their door steps. Walk, it's healthier that way," said @kirundiray.

Similarly, others blamed matatu operators for failing to maintain order when they were allowed into the town centre as they chose to turn bus stages into parking lots instead of using them to pick and drop passengers.

"The matatu guys should tell us why they need spacious parking area. Bus stations are for dropping and picking passengers! Let them comply. We are tired of heavy air pollution in CBD," said @elinzola.

The ban comes three weeks after the national government started a crackdown on PSVs that have been flouting traffic laws popularly referred to as 'Michuki Rules'.

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