Matatu operators cancel strike, opt for dialogue

Wednesday March 30 2016

Striking matatu operators at the Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout in Nairobi on March 5, 2014.

Striking matatu operators at the Kenyatta Avenue-Uhuru Highway roundabout in Nairobi on March 5, 2014. Matatu operators have warned commuters to find alternative means of transport to the Nairobi city centre beginning March 31, 2016, saying they will go on strike until Kidero rescinds an order to banning them from the city centre. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP NATION MEDIA GROUP

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The Matatu Welfare Association has called off a strike planned for Thursday and instead opted for dialogue to the resolve parking permit cancellation by the Nairobi County government.

Governor Evans Kidero said Wednesday that the permits would be cancelled after shop owners said they would not pay taxes to the county government because most of the space outside their premises had been turned into parking lots.

The association’s chairman, Mr Dickson Mbugua, said the peaceful demonstration would start early Thursday morning and they would not allow any vehicle, including private cars and taxis, to enter the city centre.

Mr Mbugua said the disruption would go on until the governor calls off the directive revoking the parking permits, which they said they have already paid for.

“We pay Sh7,250 per vehicle every month for a parking permit to City Hall and the governor thinks we do not contribute to revenues in this city,” quipped Mr Mbugua.

He claimed that the county government earns Sh10 billion from the matatu industry annually compared with the Sh30 million the city collects from traders as licenses. 

Dr Kidero said he would order the cancellation of the parking permits in a bid to ease congestion in the city, adding that they would be issued afresh.


In addition, the matatu operators demanded that the county government repair all roads in the city or they would not pay taxes.

“If traders are exempted from paying taxes because customers are shying away from their business, let us also not pay for the licences until all roads are repaired,” said Mr Mbugua.

Furthermore, Mr Mbugua called upon the governor to account for all the money he has been collecting from the transport sector, saying that roads in the city are not being repaired.

However, Nairobi County Transport Executive Mohamed Abdullahi said that picking up and dropping off passengers at undesignated places had led to congestion and anarchy in the city centre.

“We have only five legal bus termini that include Koja, Bus Station, Muthurwa, Railways and Harakati that every matatu operator knows about. All those others you see are illegal,” said Mr Mohamed.

Mr Mohamed said the removal of the public service vehicles (PSVs) at the two illegal terminuses would be done diplomatically and officers had already been deployed at both Gill House and Ronald Ngala to remove the them.

“We do not want chaos and drama during the crackdown. What we want is diplomacy from our officers and to tell the matatus that there is no picking and dropping of passengers at these illegal stages,” added Mr Mohamed.

He said that over 70 per cent of PSVs operating in the city centre are using fake parking permits.

Additionally, the transport executive reaffirmed the county boss's directive that the city would revoke all permits and start a new registration process to wipe out fake parking licences.

The operation to wipe out illegal stages started Wednesday, with several matatus that pick up passengers at Gill House towed away to various City Hall yards.

The owners of the towed vehicles will have to part with penalties ranging between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000 to get them back.