Good idea badly effected

Tuesday December 4 2018

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The order barring matatus from accessing Nairobi’s city centre came into force yesterday with devastating consequences for thousands of commuters and motorists. According to City Hall, the ban is meant to eliminate traffic congestion and chaos in the city centre often blamed on matatus.
The purpose, it says, is to restrict public service vehicles to terminuses on the fringes of the city, where they can drop off and pick up passengers without crowding the CBD. However, as the ban took effect yesterday, it was the commuters and private motorists who were left holding the short end of the stick.
In the morning, many had to walk long distances to their places of work after the PSVs decided to terminate their journey way off their designated areas. And in the evening, it was the same agony as commuters trekked all the way outside the city centre to catch matatus home. Though the move was meant to ease traffic movement, it was utter chaos on the roads and highways leading into and out of the city centre.
The chaotic scenes at the terminuses were testimony of the lack of foresight in the execution of the order. It was clear the planners did not take into consideration the impact it would have on commuters. The situation was compounded by an apparent lack of clear guidelines to traffic officers to monitor matatus without adversely affecting other motorists. The result was a transport paralysis late into the night.
In the absence of a reliable mass transport system, matatus are the backbone of the system. Any directive that disrupts their operations only ends up making the lives of the millions of commuters more miserable. City planners must come up with a public transport system capable of handling the teeming population.