Matatu owners plead with Kenyans to resume work

Matatus parked along Latema road in the Nairobi CBD on August 10, 2017. Photo | Kanyiri Wahito | nmg
Matatus parked along Latema road in the Nairobi CBD on August 10, 2017. Photo | Kanyiri Wahito | nmg 

Matatu owners in Nairobi on Thursday advised drivers and touts not to stop operations to the Central Business District in a bid to encourage more city residents to venture out of their homes.

Simon Kimutai, the chairman of the Matatu Owners Association (MOA), said drivers had been told to operate between city estates and the CBD despite the low number of travellers.

“In Nairobi, we have more than 20,000 vehicles. Now, about 18,000 vehicles are parked. I have told my members to have a vehicle carry half the passengers, come back with half; so that they spread. This way, people can come out,” Mr Kimutai said yesterday.

He added that investors in the industry were concerned by the huge losses they had been incurring since Tuesday’s General Election and had decided to encourage Kenyans to be on the move.

Mr Kimutai told the Nation that of the approximated 20,000 matatus operating within the city, about 2,000 were operating and that had shrunk incomes that operators make from commuters.

Given that each matatu makes about Sh8,000 in gross income per day, he said, the amount of money that operators have lost due to poll jitters could be well over Sh100 million.

MOA says it has consulted with security agencies to assure people of safety.

“We have already talked to the government security agents and they have assured us that they are going to ensure there is no interruption of business; or there are not going to be any attacks on vehicles,” said Mr Kimutai.


Besides the transport industry, other sectors are also suffering losses as businesses are hardly opened either due to fear of uprisings or lack of demand.

Despite Nairobi returning to relative normalcy yesterday, the number of people moving into the CBD was small, leading to reduced business.

Ms Ruth Moraa, who runs a salon at the Kenya Cinema building, said she had lost at least Sh50,000 in gross income since Tuesday.

“We have not been able to go to work. Yesterday, I called security in our building and they said no business is open except the restaurants on the ground floor,” she said.

One of the reasons why she cannot open her business yet, she said, is because the hairdressers who work under her do not feel comfortable moving out of their houses.

“Even if I go and open the shop and the hairdressers do not turn up, there is nothing much I can do. We basically depend on customers coming to the hairdressers in the building,” she said.

Most businesses have remained closed since Tuesday, although normalcy is slowly returning to some parts of the city centre and surrounding estates.

Commercial banks, which are forced to stay open because it is against the Central Bank's rules to be shut on a weekday without permission from the regulator, have been witnessing empty banking halls.

An employee of the Muindi Mbingu Street branch of Equity Bank #ticker:EQTY told the Nation on Tuesday that they were mostly idling in office as very few clients were checking in.