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CBD matatu relocation that proved tricky in 2020

About six months after taking the reins of Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), Major General Mohammed Badi announced an ambitious plan.

That was September and the NMS Director General said by end of November, all public service vehicles (PSVs) will be out of Nairobi central business district (CBD).

According to Maj Gen Badi, the development was part of a wider plan to decongest the capital’s CBD and it was being finalised ahead of a launch by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November.

The relocation strategy was to see matatus plying Ngong and Lang’ata Roads (Kawangware, Kikuyu, Kibera, Lang’ata, Rongai, Kiserian) terminate their journey at the Green Park terminus, popularly known as Railways Club.

Long distance PSVs from Mt Kenya and those from the Thika Superhighway – that have been terminating at Tea room, Accra Road – will drop and pick passengers at Desai and Park Road termini in Ngara.

On the other hand, Muthurwa terminus was expected to remain as it serves PSVs from Jogoo and Lusaka roads.

PSVs from Mombasa Road (South B, South C, Industrial Area, Imara Daima, Athi River, Kitengela, Machakos) will terminate at another new terminus at the junction of Bunyala and Workshop Road.

The Fig Tree terminus at Ngara will serve matatus from Waiyaki Way, Uhuru Highway, Kipande and Limuru roads.

Matatus coming through Machakos and Lang’ata roads will terminate their journeys at a terminal to be built at Railway Golf Club land off Uhuru Highway with land already acquired and construction work started.

“We are still in the process of acquiring other lands that we will use as matatus stages to free up the city. Before December, we will be able to keep all matatus out of the CBD,” Mr Badi told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security when he appeared before it then.

As part of the plan, the city’s commuter rail service would be integrated with the out-of-city termini which will eventually link the same to the Bus Rapid Transport system for efficiency.

A park-and-ride facility will see commuters heading to the city centre board buses for the final parts of their journeys. Walkways on the busy motorways will guide placement of initial stations for the BRT network.

The termini were also to be integrated with an electronic system to keep matatu users informed on the time last mile buses will be at the different pick up stages.

“This system keeps you informed and, when you have information, you make correct decisions on what time you are planning to do your business, what time to leave your office, when to you go home and so on. That is what we want to integrate,” said NMS Director of Transport and Public Works Michael Ochieng.

But fast forward to December, with no signs of any relocation coming any time soon, Eng Ochieng said that a date to stop matatus from accessing the CBD had not been arrived at.

This means that PSVs will still be ferrying passengers to the CBD for the foreseeable future until such a time when everything is ready for full implementation of the decongestion strategy.

He said the date will be announced after “the project is done and we have rehearsed with the matatu operators on how they are going to operate in various sections of the roads”.

Giving an example of Green Park, the Transport director said the terminus was at the time more than 80 percent complete and would be launched by mid-December.

However, that never happened as the launch date was postponed to January 2021 with final works still going on at the terminus.

Mr Badi would say the completion of the terminus had been delayed due to infusion of modern designs with the terminal set to have modern amenities including a restaurant, a supermarket, a police station and dispensary set within it.

The terminus is also expected to be fitted with a solar energy system to provide lighting at the terminal as well as garden beds set around the terminus.