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‘We must bring sanity to Nairobi city’- Atwoli defends Sakaja’s m**atu ban

Monday, January 2nd, 2023 02:23 | By
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Secretary General of Central Organization of Trade Unions [COTU] Francis Atwoli addressing Kenyans during 54th anniversary of Central Organization of Trade Unions of Kenya and International Labour day celebrations held at Uhuru Park on May 1, 2019. PHOTO/Courtesy

Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) secretary-general Francis Atwoli has defended Nairobi governor Johnson Sakaja's decision to remove matatu's from the Central Business District (CBD).

Speaking on Saturday, December 31, 2022, the outspoken trade unionist affirmed that Sakaja needs to get support in order to make Nairobi an international city.

He equally opined that the governor should be supported to ensure that the city has organised public transport. He added that the move would bring 'sanity' to the town.

"Recently I was in Egypt. They have effectively utilised the loan they took from World Bank. They have put up expressways like the one in Nairobi. This is why we want Sakaja to be supported to make Nairobi a great international city like Cairo, Abuja, Johannesburg, Durban, and Kigali among others," he stated.

"We must bring sanity to our city and support Sakaja to ensure that Nairobi has organised public transport," he stated.

Matatu ban

Sakaja wants matatu Saccos plying the Western, Nyanza, and Rift Valley routes to pick up and drop off passengers from the Green park Terminus starting December 1, 2022.

The decision was reached after Sakaja met SACCOs and other transport stakeholders on November 18, 2022, at Charter Hall.

On November 28, the Nairobi county government published the new guidelines agreed upon and signed by the Acting Nairobi county secretary, Jairus Musumba.

"All PSV SACCOs and PSV companies offering services between Nyanza, Western, North Rift, South Rift, and Central Rift who are currently operating from Nairobi's Central Business District (CBD) will be relocated to the Green Park Terminus in the first phase," the notice read in part.

Long-distance travel operators ultimately moved to court to challenge the directive by Sakaja that required them to move to the Green park terminus on December 1.

The operators said the decision was discriminatory as it excluded some of their rivals.

They added that Sakaja’s directive would expose them to massive losses, and would also inconvenience long-distance travellers who predominantly travel with relatively large luggage, especially during the festive season.

The petitioners in the case include North Rift Luxury Shuttle, Madaraka Prestige, Transline, Great Rift Shuttle, Legacy Luxury, Kina 2015 Classic, Sasaline Classic Shuttle, Blue line, Team Swat and Transliner Galaxy.

Sakaja's critics

Sakaja's decision attracted sharp criticism from notable leaders such as Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua who cautioned that the move would adversely affect the matatu industry.

"Na nimemuambia govana wa Nairobi tutakaa chini na yeye kwa sababu sisi ndo tulimchagua. Mimi ndo niliketisha Wakikuyu pale Nairobi nikawaambia wamchague. Na nimemuita tukae chini na yeye. Mambo yoyote ambaye anaamua ambayo inaweza haribu biashara katika Nairobi kwanza tuongee tukubaliane," Gachagua said.

The Deputy President insisted that banning matatu from operating in Nairobi Central Business District (CBD) was something that was impossible.

"Hatutaki spedi mingi sana, twende pole pole. Sindio? Hio maneno ati ya kutoa matatu nini hio maneno haiwezekani. Staki tuanze kusumbua wafanyi biashara," he said.

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