Kenya: Fury Over Nairobi Matatu CBD Ban as Sonko Stands His Ground

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

Nairobi — The matatu ban within the Nairobi Central Business District has elicited mixed reactions from commuters who were forced to trek into the CBD from the designated termini.

For some, it means they won't need to spend cash at a gym, but it won't address the real issues.

Others who spoke to Capital FM News say although a noble idea, the County Government should have provided alternative means from the termini to the CBD.

A majority were more concerned about people with special needs, expectant women and the aged while others wondered what will happen when it rains which is characterised by flooding.

"What if it was raining?" a visibly irritated Alex Musyoka asked.

He had walked from Ngara and still had a distance to cover before getting to Haile Selassie Avenue to board another vehicle for his final destination.

Thousands of people were seen sharing the roads with vehicles since the pedestrian walkways are either too small and, in some instances, non-existent.

"This is just wrong," a rushing pedestrian was heard saying.

The situation caused a traffic snarl-up as matatus blocked roads adjacent to the termini.

For example, Limuru Road was gridlocked from United Nations Avenue as the confusion at the Ngara dropping point spilled over.

"People will be fired today (for lateness). This is wrong," Simon Wangai, a resident of Ruaka said.

Other were forced to use alternative means like online taxis but at a higher cost. Due to high demand, the service

providers had hiked their prices.

Governor Mike Sonko later apologised, saying the move was not meant to punish them.

But even with this, he said the ban remains.

"From Muthurwa to the CBD is just a walking distance," he said when he appeared before a Senate Committee on Monday morning.

He said there were plans to provide alternative means for commuters including addressing some of the pertinent issues like safety of the pedestrians who are now prone to muggings or being hit by speeding vehicles.

Here are some comments taken from Twitter:

"Critically @MikeSonko would have banned private cars from entering CBD instead of #MatatuCBDBan, allowing a private car carrying 1 person to job over a matatu carrying 60 people isn't logical at all," @japheth_boR.

"This was a colossal policy misadventure with the lives of Nairobi residents. More public consultation and information was needed. #MatatuCBDBan" Amnesty International-Kenya Executive Director Houghton Irungu posted.

"The ban on Matatu's entering Nairobi CBD should be sustained. Kenyans have a habit of complaining about congestion and noise within the CBD but are unwilling to accept changes to that effect. Please get this FACT in your mind: NO DEVELOPED CITY HAS MATATU'S," @ItsDavidMaina.

"Some of the positives from the #MatatuCBDBan are 1, Great savings from gym expenses 2 weight reduction

3 knowing your city 4 control of sugar level 5 prevention of obesity long-term NCDs 6 improvement in mental alertness 7 one love one people one heart," @andrewsuleh.

"In cities where PSVs don't enter the CBD, there's proper urban transport of trams or railway system. In Durban we have PSVs allover yet there's no traffic jam because of proper planning. #MatatuCBDBan," @IkeOjuok.

Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja has since said he will challenge the ban in court.

"The people of Nairobi feel betrayed. People are walking long distances to get to the office," the legislator said.

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