The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) says the 14-seater matatu ban will affect only those terminating within the Nairobi Central Business District, even as operators claim the move has caused more confusion.
In a statement on Wednesday, NTSA clarified that licensing of vehicles that do not pass through Nairobi’s CBD will continue.
But the Association of Matatu Operators says that NTSA has not put in place a mechanism of implementation of the same hence creating confusion since the Road Service Licence (RSL) issued to Saccos and companies indicates routes that can be operated by vehicles belonging to such organisations regardless of capacity.
“The authority continues to renew road service licence (RSL) for all 14-seater PSV’s that do not pass through central business district (CBD) of Nairobi City. We are indeed facilitating and encouraging the 14-seater PSV operators, especially those who have access to CBD to get alternative routes,” reads the statement by NTSA.
NTSA further states that it has complied with the court order issued on December 19, 2018 suspending the directive.
The order was obtained by 24 matatu saccos.
But Association of Matatu Operators spokesperson John Methu Njoroge said that the NTSA directive has caused confusion since the RSLs are issued to saccos and companies for routes.
Mr Njoroge, who is also the chairman of Metro Trans East Africa, says that most of the saccos and companies have vehicles of different capacities in their fleet and NTSA has not explained how to differentiate.
When contacted by the Business Daily, NTSA director-general Francis Meja declined to respond to the issues raised by the matatu operators.
The matata owners questioned the wisdom of locking out the 14-seater vehicles out from the CBD arguing that all those operating from upcountry terminate their routes in Nairobi and the authority has not given such operators an alternative.
Last month, 24 saccos operating 14-seater matatus obtained temporary court orders stopping the NTSA from denying them licences until February 15, 2019.
There are more than 37,000 14-seater matatus on Kenyan roads as per the Economic Survey data.
The Association of Matatu Operators that represents 195 saccos last week moved to court accusing NTSA of declining to license its members on grounds that they are not part of the suit and therefore cannot enjoy the High Court order.
Legal Notice 179 of December 31, 2014 that stopped licensing of 14-seater matatus came into effect on January 1.
NTSA has declined to extend protection of the order to other saccos.
The association claims that the court decision is binding to all saccos across the sector regardless of whether someone is a party to it or not, terming NTSA’s interpretation of the order as discriminatory and unreasonable.
The High Court has asked the association to serve NTSA and return to court for further directions on January 11.