Of the commendable efforts made over the years to improve public transport across the country, transport savings and credit societies had been billed as the panacea for the numerous problems bedevilling the subsector.
However, recent experience has shown that the rogue matatu industry remains unwieldy and that the saccos have not had the desired impact.
Most matatus are firmly in the grip of cartels that have proved difficult to break up, even with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) working with the saccos to tackle the challenges.
With the rogue elements in control, this potentially lucrative investment remains the preserve of groups that sometimes operate like criminal gangs.
However, bearing the brunt of the confusion in the public transport subsector are commuters.
Nairobi is a decent fast-growing city, but its transportation is unreliable, chaotic and thrives in Mafia-type operations.
Dar es Salaam has raced ahead with a bus rapid transit system and Addis Ababa has subways. In Nairobi, these are yet to be rolled out.
It will take a lot of effort to sort out the matatu mess in Nairobi. According to official records, there are more than 400 unregistered saccos operating in the city.
But in the NTSA’s books, there are only 272 transport saccos. This would explain the chaotic operations.
It is easier to track down legal entities in case some members flout rules and regulations or engage in other unbecoming behaviour.
For the sacco system to work, the loopholes that allow the pirate organisations must be sealed.
Granted, matatus are a vital source of jobs for youth and income for the operators. If streamlined, greater benefit can be derived.
The long-term solution is investment in a well-organised public transport system.