Uproar over plan to phase out 14-seater matatus in Nairobi
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has told Citizen TV that 11 commuter trains and 64 high-capacity buses will be in Nairobi by February next year as part of plans to phase out minibuses, popularly known as matatus.
Macharia spoke as some matatu sacco managers complained that the road service licences for their matatus were not being renewed by the National Transport and Safety Authority.
The chairman of the Association of Matatu Operators in Nairobi CBD Jimal Ibrahim, on Thursday blamed NTSA Director-General Francis Meja for the decision, saying there was no consultation between different stakeholders in the transport sector.
“I have more than 8000 14-seater matatus in my association and right now there is a lot of outcry that they are not renewing licenses. Even if there is a law that says you phase out 14 seaters, there is also a law that says you find a way of compensating these operators,” Mr. Jimal told Citizen Digital.
“Meja should borrow a leaf from other countries in the world like South Africa who ran the exercise smoothly, compensating operators. Clear policies should be laid out before the industry welcomes the decision.”
Mr. Jimal noted that over 14,000 matatus in Nairobi risk being thrown out of business, rendering many youths jobless.
“It is wrong the country is in crisis, where do they want us to take the vehicles,” he said.
Jimal vowed to oppose the planned phase-out of 14-seater matatus, further appealing to President Uhuru Kenyatta to come to the rescue of operators.
“I call upon President Kenyatta to intervene and solve this crisis,” he said.
Although NTSA is yet to respond to the issue, the Transport Cabinet Secretary says the transport sector will change gradually but for the better.