Matatu operators and workers have called on Nairobi County government to suspend the ban on Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) from accessing the city until they have provided enough space to hold all the vehicles operating in the city.
They have also threatened to seek a legal redress through their lawyer Evans Ondieki if the county does not listen to them and suspend the ban setting up stage for a chaotic capital city even as the county maintain that there is no going back on the order.
The ban which takes effect on Monday will compel all matatus to operate from designated termini without entering the Central Business District to pick and drop off passengers.
The Association of Matatu Workers (AMW) have vowed to defy the order from City Hall saying that they will continue using their current pick-up and drop off points until the county government provides termini that are up to standard.
The Association chairman Mr Clement Njuguna said that the failure by the county government to provide enough space and involve industry stakeholders in the process has seen similar directives fail in the past pointing out to the failures in both 2008 and 2016.
Mr Njuguna said the holding capacity of the termini provided by the county government cannot hold all the matatus accessing the city centre, which are over 20, 000 in number, making the ban impractical as it will only cause massive gridlock in the city and untold suffering for commuters who will be forced to walk long distance to their business and work places.
“The suggested termini cannot hold all the matatus and their members. Apart from the drivers and conductors, we have our own stage managers employed by the saccos and all of us cannot fit in the termini. Jogoo road alone has at least 10,000 matatus. How will they fit at Muthurwa terminus?” posed Mr Njuguna during a press conference in Nairobi on Sunday.
He also faulted the county government for not assuring them whether they will provide sufficient security at the designated termini.
“The county has not notified us whether they have instructed the police to provide security at the termini. We cannot put the lives of our sector as well as passengers in danger,” he said.
On Saturday, Association of Matatu Operators (AMO) chairman Jimal Ibrahim said they will defy the ban saying the designated termini are sub-standard and lack security.
“My members are not ready to move out until the county government meets their standards. The termini are too small to fit our vehicles and they have not reached our standards,” he said.
Similarly, Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai said that if the ban was to take effect then Nairobi will ‘come to a standstill’ occasioned by the gridlock that will be brought about by the plan.
“I do not think this will work. It cannot work as nobody is prepared for it. What is the capacity of Muthurwa terminus, Fig Tree terminus, Murang’a Road terminus? It is not workable,” he said.
Matatu Welfare Association chairman and Federation of Public Transport sector secretary general Dickson Mbugua has also joined the growing chorus of disapproval saying that the designated termini are in bad condition with no lights, bad carpeting and cannot be able to accommodate all matatus in Nairobi.
However, Nairobi Transport executive Mohamed Dagane has, said that the termini – which have 505 parking slots – will only act as pick-up and dropping points for passengers and not holding grounds for the matatus with each PSV given between 10 and 40 minutes at a time.