Matatus in Nairobi’s CBD is the problem, is tech the solution?

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Hon. Mike Mbuvi Sonko, Nairobi County, Governor.

Nairobi’s recent matatu ban was all the citizens, plying various routes in Kenya’s capital, could talk about, as Governor Hon. Mike Mbuvi Sonko prohibited the vehicles from accessing the CBD on Monday 3d December 2018. The ban however, was short-lived as Hon. Sonko had to call off the exercise the next day sighting the “plight of Nairobi residents” as the main reason.

Hon. Sonko gave more information on the suspended ban via a press statement stating that it was part of measures to decongest the city centre, and followed months of planning, as well as public and stakeholder participation.

“I have noted with deep concern the plight of Nairobi residents because of the ban, and hereby announce that the full implementation of this directive has been suspended with immediate effect,” said Hon. Sonko. “This is to facilitate further consultation with all affected parties, to find a lasting solution to the problem of vehicular congestion,” he added.

“Although the directive is well intentioned, many innocent commuters, including senior citizens and those with health challenges requiring emergency medical attention, expectant mothers and children traveling with their parents, all suffered untold inconvenience, and this is regrettable. It also became clear that it is necessary to have contingent measures before enforcement of such key decisions,” said Hon. Sonko.

This is not the first time such an exercise has failed, in fact it was earlier this year on April 2018 that another such ban reaped the same reward. So, the questions we must ask ourselves here are: is a ban the only way to go? What role can technology play in easing the exercise of managing matatus?

To the first question, the County government has experimented with other alternatives, according to a report by Kahawatungu, the latest directive is that only three Matatus per Sacco will be allowed into the Central Business District of Nairobi according to the latest agreement between Nairobi governor Mike Sonko and the Association of Matatu Operators.

Technology can certainly play a part in helping matatus be more organised within the CBD. In fact, Data Integrated Ltd, a Kenyan ICT company, has developed a scheduling system that, “queues buses and passenger App for commuters. Matatu Saccos, NTSA Kenya and Nairobi County get shared dashboard that allow their own view and interactions. It’s now possible to create direct routes and by-pass CBD,” the company tweeted.

According to Data Integrated the solution’s functions include:
  • A scheduling list– the list acts as a priority list for buses on a specific day.
  • A “buses in range” list– which is a list of buses scheduling a flagged area.
  • On-loading buses– The list of buses boarding passengers in the flagged area.

Should the county government give such technology a chance? Tell us what you think, leave a comment below.

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