Transport services could be paralysed starting today (Thursday) as matatu operators in Nairobi are headed for a showdown with City Hall over seasonal parking charges.
This comes after Matatu Association of Kenya threatened to down tools starting Thursday following flopped consultations with City Hall over the proposed increased seasonal parking fees.
According to City Hall, 13-seater matatus are supposed to pay Sh5,000 per month, Sh14 000 for three months, Sh26,000 for six months and Sh52,000 for a whole year.
On the other hand, mini bus of between 14 and 42-seater should pay Sh8,000 per month; Sh22,000 for three months; Sh40,000 for six months and Sh72,000 annually.
The buses of between 43 and 62 seats parts with Sh10,000 per month; Sh26,000 for three months; Sh48,000 for six months and Sh86,000 for a year.
But the matatu operators are opposed to the new charges.
They want the charges to be lowered to Sh3,650 per month for a 14-seater matatus; Sh5,250 per month for a 32-seater mini bus and Sh7,250 per month for the 43 and above seater buses; fees they have been paying since 2014.
The association’s national coordinator, Mr Albert Karakacha told the Daily Nation that the talks of engagement with officials at City Hall bore no fruits as the two parties failed to agree.
He stated that the county government refused to lower the parking fees and revert it to what it initially was, saying that the matter did not come to a close.
“There was no public participation in increasing the parking fees for matatus in the city. In fact, Nairobi is the county where matatu saccos pay the most parking fees as compared to Kiambu, Machakos and other areas. It is not sensible with to increase parking fees in this economy that is currently doing bad,” said Mr Karakacha.
On Wednesday, transport was briefly disrupted in Nairobi in the afternoon after various matatu saccos downed their tools in protest of proposed increase of parking fees.
The disruptions, which were witnessed in several parts of the city including the Kencom stage, took place between 1pm and 2pm, affecting commuters who were left stranded.
“As an association we have agreed that we will not pay for parking until we go back to the old rates. If they do not agree we will pull all our vehicles and we will not operate from tomorrow (Thursday),” Karakacha said.
“The officials at City Hall have not spoken to us again and that is why from tomorrow no vehicle will be on the road until we agree,” he added.
However, Nairobi County Director of Parking Services Tom Tinega has maintained that they will continue levying the new charges as is spelt on the Nairobi County Finance Act, 2019 and that they will not be entering into any agreement with the matatu operators on any issue that is not supported by the law.
“They do not want to pay seasonal parking tickets as in the law but ones that they are coming up with. What will we use to justify or base the charges on? There must be a document which is within the law,” said Mr Tinega.
Early this month, Matatu Owners Association (MOA) Chairman Simon Kimutai said the operators were not consulted before the increment of the seasonal parking fees and hence they will not be a party to a process that they were not involved in.
“We ask our members not to pay until the matter is settled. The fees we are currently paying is more than enough and we are ready for mass action in case any of our member is arrested by the county government,” said Mr Kimutai.