Nairobi County Governor Mike Sonko suspended the ban he had issued barring Matatus from operating in the CBD. Sonko said he has given Matatu’s one month to regulate themselves. In the new directive, Sonko wants Matatu players to ensure there is no double parking, obstructions, U-turns, loud music and blocking of business premises.
There were mixed reactions last week when the Governor issued the ban. Most complained that the ban was insensitive to commuters who would be forced to walk vast distances from drop off points to their stations of work. The tenuous political environment in the country cannot be ignored and may have played a part in softening the Governor’s stance.
As expected, big players in the Matatu industry did not take the ban lying low and immediately sought audience with the Governor. Sonko agreed to a meeting where he clarified that the order he issued on Friday was a pilot project where commuters would be dropped in the heart of the city without hindering traffic flow.
At the same time, Sonko promised that his government will address the perennial Nairobi traffic menace through construction of storeyed and underground parking. The plan will also see expansion of roads to include special lanes for high-capacity buses. These buses will pick passengers from gazetted termini and commuters will not have to pay a dime more.
The Matatu industry is highly unregulated and is often run in cohorts with cartels who have little regard for law. Traffic police are often unable to enforce penalties on Matatus given most of them are affiliated to city dons who have their bosses on payroll. It is therefore interesting to see whether this self-regulation challenge work.