Blanket ban on 14-seater matatus is not practical
EDITORIAL: Blanket ban on 14-seater matatus is not practical
A mass revocation of the PSV licences has the potential of grinding the country’s chaotic transport system to a halt and occasioning massive losses to the economy. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Commuters could face yet another transport crisis following the National Transport and Safety Authority’s (NTSA) decision to deny 14-seater matatus 2019 operating licences. Legal Notice 179 of December 31, 2014 stopped the licensing of passenger service vehicles (PSVs) with carrying capacity of fewer than 25 from January 1, 2016, but it was delayed until January 1, 2019 to enable industry players to comply.The High Court has since issued temporary orders stopping the NTSA from blocking 24 out of nearly 200 14-seater matatu saccos from renewing their operating permits.This leaves a majority of the saccos facing the risk of being delicensed.Whereas the implementation of the Legal Notice from January 1, 2019 could be long overdue in addressing congestion in our cities, there is need for the sector regulator and the Ministry of Transport to exercise extreme caution to avert a transport crisis similar to what was witnessed when the Nairobi City County unilaterally banned all matatus from accessing the Central Business District on December 4.It must not be lost to the ministry and the NTSA that majority of Kenyans depend on nearly 37,000 14-seater matatus to commute on a daily basis.It is also critical that thousands of investors who operate the vehicles on various routes across the country are given time to repay loans they owe to lenders.A mass revocation of the PSV licences has the potential of grinding the country’s chaotic transport system to a halt and occasioning massive losses to the economy.
We strongly recommend the need for proper stakeholder involvement ahead of implementation of the Legal Notice in order to guarantee an orderly phased-out approach in the delicensing of the 14-seater matatus across the country.A planned phased-out approach will help NTSA and the ministry in its aspiration to fix congestion in major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret as well as time to rein in on matatu madness.A phased approach should act as a stop-gap measure to allow 14-seater operators to comply with the law.The NTSA could, for example, ban the licensing of newly imported 14-seater matatus, but allow the old vehicles to continue operating for one or two years.