Coastweek -- Last
week we suggested simple low cost opportunities for improving
the congestion in the cities occasioned by the unruly and
raggle-taggle way the matatus and city buses currently operate,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
The opportunity was
to simply ban the waiting by matatus at any point on the route
they ply and to provide terminuses on the outside of the city or
town areas where they would rest before going back to pick
They would also park
there when there was no work.
They would only be
allowed to pick passengers at designated spots (what are
commonly called bus stops) and any pick up outside of those
areas would be punished very heavily.
picked up away from bus stops would also face the wrath of the
law. Implementing this in addition to the Michuki Rules would
bring a lot of sanity back on to our roads.
There are obviously
several behavioural issues that would have to be sorted out as
well – such as the propensity to weave in traffic and
overlapping in slow traffic or in traffic jams.
showed by the drivers can also be tempered through better
policing and also holding their managements to account.
We now present the
second step in the evolution of public transport.
The next big thing
that will ease jams in our cities is to gradually phase out the
fourteen and thirty two seater buses and go to the larger buses
typically double decker and articulated buses.
These can carry up
to one hundred passengers or more if properly designed.
There would also be
a need to change the law so that the requirement for seatbelts
for every passenger in a public service vehicle can be waived.
In the more mature
economies where bus commuter transport is well established, the
requirement to have seat belts in public transport is removed by
having all high capacity buses which have more passengers
standing that sitting fitted with speed governors that limit
their speed to fifty kilometres an hour and their brakes
operating in such a way that the diver cannot bring the vehicle
to a very abrupt stop.
This will obviously
require specially designed buses and drivers with the right
temperament to operate them within the bounds and also be
extremely defensive in their driving so that they minimise the
likelihood of sudden stops.
By the authorities
approving the right type of high capacity bus they can then
start a process of converting all matatus to these buses.
challenge to this is the mentality that we have with our current
They are used to
owning and controlling all the vehicles and using the SACCOs
only as advocacy and lobby bodies.
It is like becoming
a member of a cooperative only for its voice but not for the
opportunities it represents.
The law should be
changed such that any public transport in major urban areas will
be run by registered bus companies which will own and operate
This is going back
to the early years in Kenya and will also put us right in the
current age because most cities in the world are run on a
There should a
transitional period which will allow the matatu SACCO members to
dispose of or change the service of their current vehicles.
They SACCOS should
be changed to become transport companies and the current members
who own matatus should become shareholders in the SACCOs.
should be targeted to take place over one year.
After the one year,
no more small matatus and buses will be allowed to operate as or
offer public transport but would only be available for spot hire
or commercial hire for specific events and organisations.
They can also be
operated as specific transport for companies that provide
transport for their staff and so forth.
This will allow the
rebirth of the fourteen and thirty two seaters for a different
but more competitive and controlled business model.
So in a nutshell –
change law to prescribe high capacity buses for the urban
transport and also the specifications required to make them
These will be the
only ones allowed for now.
Change all current
organisations involved in bus transport (SACCOs and franchise
agencies) to bus operating companies who take all
responsibilities and risks for the business.
Give the current
matatus and buses one year to change their business models after
which all licenses for inner city commuter services that have
been given to individual operators will be withdrawn and given
to the new bus operating companies.
In the one year that
the matatus are being run down, the bus operating companies can
ramp up their operations so that there is a seamless transfer
from one mode of transport to another.
It is only after
this transformation or during this change that the Bus Rapid
Transit system can be implemented as the operators will be well
versed in what to do and all they will need will be the bus only
lanes and route allocations.
This will be the
third evolution in public transport and even this has to be done
In this way we will
progress to easing the congestion and jams in our inner city by
reducing the number of vehicles on the load.
Each fully loaded
bus that works efficiently will take some fifteen or so vehicles
off our streets during peak hours once the public trusts the
connectedness and punctuality of the buses.
As Kachumbari says,
a country should not prove how developed it is by the number of
poor people who buy cars but by the number of rich people who
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