Revealed: Cause of traffic congestion in Nairobi’s CBD
Double parking, illegal bus stages and private cars operating as public service vehicles (PSVs) have been identified as the major cause of congestion in Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).
The revelations were made during a Nairobi County Assembly Transport committee on Wednesday during a meeting with matatu operators in the capital city.
Appearing before the committee, Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai told the committee that there are cartels in the city made up by a section of City Hall officials who collude with certain saccos to allow them to double park.
Mr Kimutai, with a fleet of over 70 PSVs, stated that the cartels have threatened to take over some parking slots and giving them to accomplice saccos revealing that Star Bus and Latema Saccos facing the wrath of the cartels.
He alleged that the cartels operating within the CBD have been using the name of Nairobi’s Governor Mike Sonko to extort new saccos in order to allocate them parking slots.
He said that Star Bus Sacco is the original occupant of Latema Road bus stage but currently more than three saccos occupy the stage stating that the situation has resulted in the narrowing of the road leading to congestion as the matatus compete to get holding grounds.
“The saccos have been threatened, intimidated as the cartels have insisted on taking over our parking slot along Latema Road,” said Mr Kimutai.
The committee vice chair Mark Mugambi echoed the MOA chairman’s assertions saying that there are individuals brokering between the matatu owners and the county to extort from the matatu operators.
He said that the same individuals have also allocated parking to private cars especially the taxis in slots to operate as PSVs which is illegal, pointing out Tom Mboya Street and Latema Road as the most notorious stages where some saccos have been operating without licenses.
“We know very well that NTSA requirement is that for a sacco to exist legally, it should have the requisite number of 30 vehicles, yet we have a sacco named Chelsea that has only seven matatus yet it has been allocated a slot along Tom Mboya Street. This is why even during the day, Tom Mboya Street especially from the glob roundabout to Odeon is ever having traffic,” said Mr Mugambi.
The Umoja One MCA said the situation has been exacerbated by the limited number of slots per sacco against the high number of matatus operating in the capital resulting in some saccos attempting to take over the limited slots without holding a specific stage hence causing congestion.
“As a result, the exit points of the CBD get blocked due to extra saccos trying to get holding places. That is why people are taking a maximum of between 45 minutes and an hour to leave the city centre, especially in the evening,” he said.
The committee chair, James Mwangi, on the other hand, blamed the disorderliness and insanity being witnessed in the city centre on double parking, saying that the number of vehicles keep increasing each day yet the CBD does not expand.
“The rate at which double parking, especially along loading zones, on pavements and also in front of business premises is wanting. If we don’t take the initiative and try bring order then public transport system in the city will end up being chaotic,” he said.
The committee had invited matatu saccos to deliberate on how to manage the congestion within the CBD and explain why there is a lot of double parking by the saccos.