Nairobi commuters trek to work as matatu ban takes effect

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Do you work in Nairobi’s Central Business District and use public transport to reach your work station?

And does your commute involve taking a connecting matatu from the city centre?

If your answer to either of the questions is in the affirmative, Governor Mike Sonko has bad news for you: You will either have to trek or take a taxi to reach your place of work.

These transport woes and heavy price of commute have been occasioned by City Hall ban on matatus from picking up and dropping off passengers in the CBD.

The ban took effect as early as 4.50am, with police and county traffic marshals blocking matatus from entering the city centre.

The armed security officers, some in full combat gear, were deployed to designated termini (outside CBD) that the Sonko administration directed matatus to operate from starting today.

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Commuters walk to work in the CBD after being dropped off at the Railways terminus on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The traffic marshals with clubs and police with guns and batons have mounted roadblocks at the termini, including Muthurwa, Muranga Road Fig Tree A, Desai Road, Ngara Road, Hakati, Railways and Central Bus Station.

Nairobi City County traffic marshals direct personal cars on Thika Road overpass near Koja bus stop on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Their orders to matatu operators are swift and firm: Stop! Do not drive beyond this point.

The officers are stopping and directing matatus seeking to enter the city centre to either make U turns or take the possible route back.

At the City Stadium roundabout, police parked their Toyota Land cruisers to block a section of the CBD-bound traffic and all PSVs plying Jogoo Road had to drop off passengers at the Muthurwa terminus.

Commuters walk to the CBD after matatus dropped them off at Fig Tree Terminus A in Ngara on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | HARRY MISIKO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The situation was similar along Thika and Limuru roads, where majority of passengers disembarked at the Fig Tree Terminus A in Ngara as matatus.

In the city centre, most matatu termini, which are usually busy during the morning hours, were deserted.

There were no matatus and virtually no activity at Koja, Odeon, Kencom, GPO, OTC, Commercial, Ronald Ngala Street, Ambassadeur, Murang’a Road and other bus stops along River Road.

Koja bus stop, which has been one of the busiest during rush hours, was deserted on the morning of December 3, 2018. PHOTO | HARRY MISIKO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Hawk-eyed security officers patrolled the town centre, possibly to arrest any operators who might have sneaked into town.

Sources told the Nation that police had been briefed on Sunday concerning implementation of the ban, which has proved futile for several years.

In the notice published in a local daily on Thursday, all PSVs accessing the CBD from Jogoo and Lusaka Roads will be picking up and dropping off passengers at the Muthurwa Terminus.

Commuters walk to work in the CBD after being dropped off at the Railways terminus on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Those using Waiyaki Way, Uhuru Highway, Kipande and Limuru roads will have their final stop at Muranga Road Fig Tree Terminus A.

The same as those from Thika Superhighway.

TERMINI

PSVs that go past Ruiru but branch off before Kenol Town on Nyeri/Meru-Nairobi road will stop at Desai Road terminus.

Those going past Kenol on Nyeri/Meru-Nairobi road and all upcountry buses on Uhuru Highway will be stationed at Park Road terminus.

Commuters walk to the CBD after matatus dropped them off at Fig Tree Terminus A in Ngara on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | COURTESY | TWITTER

Matatus using Juja Road, Ring Road Ngara and Park Road to access CBD will stop at Ngara Road Terminus.

All Urban and peri-urban routes from Mombasa Road and Lang’ata road will use Hakati terminus while those from Ngong Road will stop at Railways.

High capacity PSVs taking people upcountry will be stationed at the Machakos terminus while matatus, including City Hoppa, Kenya Bus Services, which are on multiple routes within the city, will be stationed at Central Bus Station.

On Thika Road, it was a private-vehicles affair. Due to the trouble in Ngara, the road was jammed from as far as Allsops. PHOTO | LILYS NJERU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The biggest losers in the new directive are matatu operators, who will lose business; commuters, who will have to trek on unpaved/ dusty roads and in bad weather and traders, who rely on matatus to ferry their merchandise to and from the CBD.

PSVs in the capital had vowed to defy the order issued last Thursday, raising fears of a possible clash with authorities.

Matatu owners had argued that Mr Sonko was rushing to implement an order without building capacity, and putting in place security, logistics and other amenities in the termini outside CBD.

Nairobi residents walk to CBD at the globe roundabout flyover. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Of major concern was the capacity of the new termini outside CBD to handle the over 20,000 matatus that operate in the capital.

“My members are not ready to move out until the county government meets their standards,” Association of Matatu Workers (AMW) chairman Clement Njuguna said on Saturday.

“The termini are too small to fit our vehicles and they have not reached our standards.”

As traffic marshals blocked matatu entry into the CBD, county askaris were busy clamping unauthorised vehicles that were packed in the city centre overnight like this shuttle belonging to Mololine shuttles at Odeon bus stop. PHOTO | AGEWA MAGUT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

However, Nairobi Transport executive Mohamed Dagane defended the decision, saying the termini will only act as pick-up and dropping-off points for passengers and not holding grounds for the matatus.

Every matatu, he said, will have between 10 and 40 minutes to drop off and pick up passengers.

Attempts to implement matatu ban in Nairobi CBD failed terribly in the past years and had to be suspended following negotiations between major stakeholders.

Nairobi residents walk to CBD at the globe roundabout flyover. PHOTO | KANYIRI WAHITO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Will Mr Sonko succeed where others failed?

He is off to a good start but time will tell.

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