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Commuters, traders' pain as ban on matatu access to CBD takes effect

Nairobians jostle for space on Ngara footbridge following start of the matatu central business district ban. PHOTO | JAMES KARIUKI | NMG
Nairobians jostle for space on Ngara footbridge following start of the matatu central business district ban. PHOTO | JAMES KARIUKI | NMG 

Residents and visitors arriving to Nairobi City early Monday morning from upcountry were among the hardest hit as the ban on matatu's access to the central business district took effect.

Traders at the usual matatu stages are expected to make less earnings from their businesses since they rely on the passengers alighting and boarding vehicles.

In their usual fashion and bearing in mind the festive season, some Kenyans arriving from upcountry had a lot of luggage, including heavy sacks and cartons of foodstuff.

A number of them got stranded at different bus stations trying to figure out how to reach their final destinations on the outskirts of the city.

On social media, Kenyans had mixed reactions concerning implementation of the ban by Governor Mike Sonko’s leadership.

A section of Kenyans on Twitter complained that the idea of driving PSVs out of town was poorly planned and a recipe for chaos in the city’s public transport sector.

“It's brilliant but not now. As of today, it's a populist move to look like he (Sonko) is ‘working’. Truth be told, banning matatus won't end the public transport mess in the city,” @GrayMarwa said on Twitter.

Another Twitter user @geonal captured the sentiments of residents and visitors arriving from towns outside the city, exclaiming: “Arrived at Easycoach Railways at 5.30am with personal mzigo (luggage) and someone expects me to lug it all the way to Fig Tree?”

But @juniormarto had some advice for those coming from upcountry: “Fam I just wanna ask (sic) those at home just don't carry any luggage…we're officially a walking nation.”

Other residents who reside in Eastlands and double-commute daily to work at other points of the county beyond the CBD couldn’t bear the thought of having to walk all the way from the new terminus in Muthurwa, all the way past the town centre to the new termini of their different final destinations.

“I'm just stressed with this whole CBD ban. So from City Stadium Roundabout (Muthurwa) am I expected to fly up to Fig Tree? Or how does one commute from Doni to Lavi (Donholm to Lavington)?” asked @janngugi.

matatu ban

Nairobi City County traffic marshals direct personal cars on Thika Road overpass near Koja bus stop on December 3, 2018. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Supports ban

But on the other hand, others praised the ban saying that it will assist to maintain order within the city.

Proponents also claimed that it is about time Nairobi residents embraced the idea of walking longer distances for their personal health benefits.

“I'm glad that city hall has finally woken up to the fact that Nairobi needs renaissance. We can't have people being dropped off at their door steps. Walk, it's healthier that way,” said @kirundiray.

Similarly, others blamed matatu operators for failing to maintain order when they were allowed into the town center as they chose to turn stages into parking lots instead of using them to pick and drop passengers.

“The matatu guys should tell us why they need spacious parking area. Bus stations are for dropping and picking passengers! Let them comply. We are tired of heavy air pollution in CBD,” said @elinzola.

The ban comes three weeks after the national government started a crackdown on PSVs that have been flouting traffic laws popularly referred to as ‘Michuki Rules’.

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