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Ban matatus to end jams, say residents

Nairobi residents want matatus banned from the city centre and essential services decentralised in an effort to unclog traffic.

Residents who voiced their views to the Transport and Urban Decongestion Committee at Amani Centre on Wednesday blamed the gridlocks experienced in the county to the 14-seater matatus.

Ms Priscillah Njuguna said: “We need to get rid of 14-seater matatus. I personally endure heavy traffic around Pangani area because the matatus block each other.”

Another resident, Ms Judy Mwendwa, supported Ms Njuguna, adding that lack of common courtesy among the matatu crews was a major cause of traffic jams.

Overlapping

“We have to restrict matatus’ access to the city centre because they are causing the jams through overlapping and disregarding traffic rules,” Ms Mwendwa added.

The residents also called on the government to decentralise essential services to other counties.

They added that location of offices such as Ardhi House and many other administrative offices attracted a lot of unnecessary traffic into the city.

The residents were speaking to the team appointed by Governor Evans Kidero to collect views on ways to decongest the capital.

The transport and Urban Decongestion team, which was formed last month has rolled out a two-week public hearings drive in all Nairobi constituencies. They will present the views to the county government in six weeks.

Committee chair, Prof Marion Mutugi, urged residents to participate. She said the hearings would help policy makers avoid the pitfalls facing implementation of the County Finance Bill.

“The problems we have experienced with the parking fees could have been avoided if the public was involved in the process from the beginning,” Mutugi told journalists.

The hearings would be a waste of time, said team vice-chairman Mark Ngatia, if residents were not involved. He added that policies passed without public participation were bound to be challenged in court.

The committee administered a questionnaire seeking public experiences with the traffic problems, spots where gridlocks were frequent and possible solutions.

The questionnaire also touched on the state of the roads, conduct of the police and traffic marshals as well as pedestrians in observing traffic rules.

The committee plans to tour 17 areas in two weeks before conducting interviews with matatu owners, business people and residents associations.

They will then consult regulatory bodies including the police, traffic marshals and Kenya Urban Roads Authority before coming out with a report.

Njuguna urged the committee to analyse the responses in the questionnaires and push the county government to implement them.