Kenya: The Nairobi Matatu Relocation That Never Was

About six months after taking over the Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS), Major-General Mohammed Badi announced an ambitious plan.

In September, the NMS boss promised that by the end of November 2020, all public service vehicles (PSVs) will be out of the Nairobi central business district (CBD).

According to Badi, this was part of a wider plan to decongest the capital’s CBD. He announced that when done, President Uhuru Kenyatta would launch a new-look city centre in November.

According to the relocation strategy, it would have seen matatus plying Ngong and Lang’ata Roads (Kawangware, Kikuyu, Kibera, Lang’ata, Rongai, Kiserian) terminate their journey at the Green Park bus terminus, popularly known as Railways Club.

Long-distance PSVs from Mt Kenya and those from the Thika Superhighway, which have been terminating at Tea Room were expected to drop and pick up passengers at Desai and Park Road terminii in Ngara.

Muthurwa terminus, on the other hand, was expected to remain as it serves PSVs from Jogoo and Lusaka roads.

Matatus from Mombasa Road (South B, South C, Industrial Area, Imara Daima, Athi River, Kitengela, Machakos) would have ended their trips at another new terminus at the junction of Bunyala and Workshop Road.

The Fig Tree terminus at Ngara would have served matatus from Waiyaki Way, Uhuru Highway, Kipande and Limuru roads.

Work started

Matatus coming through Machakos and Lang’ata roads would be forced to terminate their journeys at a terminal to be built at Railway Golf land off Uhuru Highway, with land already acquired and construction work started.

Needless to say, this never happened.

Like many previous grand plans aimed at decongesting the city, the devil is always in the details. Memories of a similar plan executed by impeached Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko in 2018 are probably still fresh in the minds of city dwellers.

We are still in the process of acquiring other lands.

So why has Badi’s plan not come to fruition yet?

“We are still in the process of acquiring other lands that we will use as matatus stages to free up the city. Before December, we will be able to keep all matatus out of the CBD,” Mr Badi told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security when he appeared before it at the time.

But fast forward to December, the year is ending with no signs of any matatu relocation in the horizon. NMS Transport Director Michael Ochieng said that a date to stop matatus from accessing the CBD has not been arrived at, meaning that PSVs will still be ferrying passengers to the city centre for the foreseeable future until such a time when everything is ready for the implementation of the decongestion strategy.