NYS to send 50 more buses to routes in the city

NAIROBI, KENYA: Fifty more National Youth Service buses will be introduced on Nairobi roads in the coming two months as the Government moves to ease transport for city commuters.

The first 27 NYS buses started plying seven Nairobi routes on Friday, just a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta called on transport stakeholders to find ways to ease movement within the city and its suburbs.

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Yesterday, NYS Director General Richard Ndubai said the 50 additional buses would ply other routes, especially ‘the ones notorious for fare hikes’.

The introduction of NYS buses is reminiscent of the Nyayo buses that served the public between 1985 and 1995 during the reign of the President Daniel arap Moi.

The 27 buses are plying the Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi, and Kawangware routes and charge Sh20. Matatus charge up to Sh100 on those routes during peak hours.

The introduction of the buses has rattled matatu operators, especially because of the low fares they are charging.

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“We are not doing this for profit. The fare will only cater for fuel costs. Wananchi have been suffering and we hope that this will bring discipline on the roads as well as stabilise fares,” said Ndubai.

Matatu operators, however, said the speed with which the buses have been launched was reminiscent of the ticketing technology that was meant to ensure accountability and safety in the transport sector by removing the need for passengers to carry cash.

They said from the onset, the cashless programme was designed to solve a problem that many did not think existed in the first place.

Yesterday, the Association of Matatu Operators said that just like the cashless system, which failed to take off two years ago, the latest venture would not succeed ‘because of failure to think things through’.

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“We were asked to implement this system and until today those machines lie in our offices untouched,” said Jimal Ibrahim, the association’s chairman.

He said the Government should concentrate on dealing with more urgent industry concerns such as poor roads.

“The Government should have instead directed the resources to maintaining city roads in a deplorable state like the Mwiki, Juja, and Komarok roads,” he said.

He added that the buses had been offered an unfair advantage over matatus, which have to incur costs such as service licences, commonly known as TLB, high fuel costs, and seasonal county council tickets.

“NYS buses buy fuel at a subsidised fee of around Sh43 per litre. They do not pay insurance nor do they pay for badges from National Transport and Safety Authority,” he said.

Ibrahim said matatus would drastically reduce fares if they did not pay Sh21,000 for insurance for 33-seater buses.

But Ndubai termed the statement as reckless, saying NYS pays for insurance.

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In regard to a level playing ground, which matatu operators are asking for, Ndubai said NYS was not in competition with public service vehicles.

“We are about public service and meeting the needs of Kenyans, which have not been met by the other groups. Further, we only have the buses operating from Monday to Friday during rush hour,” he said.

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