Economic Survey
James Macharia
National Transport and Safety Authority

Registration of new 14-seater matatus more than doubles

New registrations for 14-seater matatus more than doubled last year, undermining the government’s long-standing plan to gradually replace them with higher capacity buses.

The number of matatus with a maximum capacity of 14 seats, licensed by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), increased 108.54 per cent to 37,382 from 17,926 vehicles in 2016, official statistics shows.

This constituted 69.62 per cent of the 53,692 public service vehicles (PSVs) licensed during the year, the Economic Survey data indicate.

The number of mini buses of 15-33 seater capacity almost halved to 4,246 in 2017 from 8,213 a year earlier, while that of buses of more than 33 seats rose 67.32 per cent to 12,064 in 2017 from 7,210 in 2016.

Low-capacity vans have been partly blamed for the costly heavy traffic snarl-ups in Nairobi and Mombasa.

The Transport ministry is working on bus rapid transit (BRT) system where a special lane on busy city roads such as Thika Super highway and Mombasa Road will have a lane dedicated for high-capacity buses and emergency service vehicles.

The innermost lane along Thika Superhighway has already been marked red, ready for the BRT plan, expected to facilitate faster movement of passengers into and out of the Nairobi’s central business district.

“More than 900 buses are required in the six corridors and because we do not have them, we have opened one corridor, the Thika highway,” Transport secretary James Macharia said on April 5.

“That is what we want to see. If they succeed, then we can all leave our cars at home and use the buses into town.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2014 reviewed a total ban on new registrations of the low-capacity matatus, largely 14- and 11-seaters, by the Transport ministry.

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