The County Government of Nakuru has been urged to halt issuance of passenger picking and dropping bays for Public Service Vehicles (PSVs), at its newly constructed bus park.
London Ward Member of County Assembly (MCA) Antony Nzuki said he had raised concern with Governor Lee Kinyanjui over illegal allocations of the slots at the terminus located at the Kenya Railways Grounds along Geoffrey Kamau Road by unauthorized officers, disregarding laid down procedures.
Nzuki claimed that stakeholders in the transport sector had not been involved in the exercise despite a directive by Governor Kinyanjui that a steering Committee be formed to help identify matatus Saccos that will operate in the new terminus.
Whilst addressing a press conference at the new Bus Stop the MCA said the County Government’s decongestion strategy had been infiltrated by cartels which he warned might lead to a transport paralysis, since PSVs that would not get slots were likely to be parked on roads, footpaths and highways.
“Some Saccos have been given as many as 12 bays against the background of 37 Saccos completely missing out on the slots. The exercise should be frozen and started afresh under scrutiny from a Committee that will be appointed by County Administration and have representatives from all transport stakeholders to undertake this function,” he added
Nzuki observed that implementation of the new City’s decongestion plan would only succeed if county officials stopped sidelining the PSV operators from the negotiating table.
The MCA said there was scanty or no information coming from the County Government on how the park would be managed, adding that ‘brokers’ purporting to represent matatu owners were largely responsible for the hiccups experienced in allocating the bays.
In March last year, the County Covid-19 Response Committee moved the matatu termini out of the Central Business District (CBD), in a move aimed at reducing congestion and preventing the spread of Covid-19.
This was to allow social distancing and adherence to other measures instituted by the Ministry of Health, to curb the spread of the virus.
The County Covid-19 Response Committee set up new bus termini at Kenya Farmers Association, Kingdom Seekers and Kwa Jack areas, to decongest the CBD following outbreak of the pandemic. Others were relocated to Ziwani and Railways grounds, all out of town.
The Committee Chaired by County Commissioner Erastus Mbui Mwenda also relocated the Nakuru Main Wakulima Market to Afraha Stadium.
However, while allowing traders back to Wakulima Market, Mr Kinyanjui issued a directive banning all matatus in the CBD, a move that received resistance from PSV vehicle operators leading to unrest.
Central Rift Matatu Owners Association chairman Stephen Muli said operators would continue pressing for suspension of allocation of the slots until a clear process was put in place and the operations plan of the new bus park was communicated to them.
“These are things that the County government should involve us; we need to understand the management of the park and its operations. This is a business that we have invested in and we do not want to see anyone who has not invested being involved,” said Muli.
“What is happening is a lot of confusion and chaos and that has been my fear all along. There is also the involvement of illegal gangs who claim to be representing the interests of PSV owners and this becomes a challenge when it comes to relocation to the new terminus,” he noted.
Muli said the eviction of matatus from CBD had directly affected thousands of people in the sector.
“We have 86 registered matatu Saccos in Nakuru town. The Saccos directly employ 4,000 people. This business is directly linked to hawkers and traders in three town markets. All these people, alongside travelers, have been hurt,” noted the Chairman.
Former Deputy Mayor at the defunct Municipal Council of Nakuru Benson Wangai suggested that for the decongestion of the city to succeed, private vehicles should first be discouraged from entering the town, pedestrian walkways should be improved to promote people walking to their destinations and stricter public transport regulations be put in place.
He said private vehicles could be kept out of the City centre by having fewer parking slots as well as fewer streets open to vehicles.
“If there are fewer parking spots and the parking fee is increased to let’s say, Sh1, 000, then very few cars would come into the City,” he said.
Mwangi indicated that private vehicles accounted for over 60 per cent of the traffic volume in Nakuru, but just ferry fewer than 20 per cent of the people who use roads.
The former civic leader noted underdeveloped non-motorized transport infrastructure such as pedestrian walkways and cycling paths had made short walkable distances dangerous for pedestrians.