By Lilian Okwili
Following a directive from Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko that Matatus should self-regulate in dropping and picking passengers in the Central Business District, the Matatu Owners Association (MOA) has deployed marshals to enhance free flow of traffic in the city.
Every Sacco has designated marshals controlling specific Sacco vehicles entry at the terminus; ensuring matatus do not block city roads unnecessarily. This is in line with industry self-regulation encouraged by government.
The association’s chairman Simion Kimutai termed the matatu industry as a big employer for the youth and called for discipline from the industry players. “This industry has employed very many youth who work as drivers, conductors, mechanics, cleaners who contribute a lot to this country’s economy,” said Kimutai.
Kimutai further urged the government to invest more in the matatu sector calling for establishment of an institution to train matatu operators. “Why can’t we have a training school for matatu drivers just like we have the aviation school and railway training schools to help our crew to work with some discipline?” Kimutai posed admitting that matatu crew “need advanced training.”
He also said despite the by National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) introducing a new curriculum for training and testing drivers, commercialised nature of the driving schools may frustrate efforts to instil discipline in motorists. The government needs to set up institutions to train both drivers and conductors, he said, noting that before any disciplinary action against errant crew, it would be prudent for government to confirm if the driver is well trained.
“We have heard very many cases of conductors mishandling passengers but they have nowhere to go and lodge a complaint. Matatus employ people of all kinds even those who are from prison. The institution will help teach them how to behave and how to handle customers,” the chairman said. Kimutai further decried pedestrian behaviour in the cities, adding these road users contribute to chaos characterising the public sector.
He urged the authorities to sensitize pedestrians on need to cross roads at designated points. “In the city centre, there used to be specific places for pedestrians crossing. All the other places had barriers. People have now tampered with the barriers and made every place a crossing point which brings confusion,” he added.
This in turn gives matatu drivers a hard time to cope with both traffic jam and pedestrian crossing. “It is therefore the responsibility of the government to come in and help bring out the best out the industry,” Kimutai concluded.