Public transport in Nairobi especially in the evening when schools have opened is terrible, particularly during weekdays.
Many people have complained and I have also experienced it in different parts of the City center and its outskirts.
This leaves me wondering, is it caused by the jam, the Police, shortage of public transport vehicles or population rise in Nairobi city.
The jam towards the City center and outside is bad in the morning and evening. Many motorists working outside the City center avoid roads that pass through the city center but at times one cannot avoid it. Public transport drivers in most cases also avoid coming to the City center. They fear being caught up by police for breaking traffic rules.
Most of them say even when their vehicles are perfect, they have all documents required and the full uniform, Police will always look for reasons to apprehend them. Making them part with a lot of money to secure their release through the court, police station fines or bribes. Hence they prefer taking short distances where they will not encounter police officers
Instead most Matatus (mini buses) decide to turn at different stops away from the City. They will turn at Ngong road, Kenyatta hospital, Nyayo stadium, City stadium, Serena, Westlands etc… depending on where they come from.
This leaves passengers waiting for them in town stranded or jostle for the few vehicles that reach the City center. Those who cannot push wait until late when the situation improves from 7pm onwards. Some routes have queues others don’t, hence the fight for those vehicles that go to queues at different bus stops in the city center. The queues are also normally very long.
The same problem applies to public transport buses and mini buses plying upcountry routes. You will notice people with all kinds of luggage waiting for vehicles, one would wonder if they would get transport.
This situation is the same in all bus stops within and around the City center. Kencom, Ambassador, Bus station, Machakos Bus station, Railways, Globe round about, Bomblast, Agip, St. Peter’s, City stadium, Fire Brigade, Commercial, Tusker,Nyayo stadium Etc…
From City Stadium to Landies Road one will notice many people walking from the City center or even as far as community to City stadium to get Matatus and buses to Eastlands, others from the other side of Nairobi walk to Kenyatta, Nyayo stadium etc….
The situation in the evening is pathetic. At least in the morning one can leave the house or home early to catch a bus or a matatu to get to work early. However this is not possible in the evening because one cannot leave work early. It is sad when you see women and children with luggage stranded, especially those that arrive in the evening from upcountry and even school children.
The truth of the matter is that the situation got worse when public transport rules were effected; this was a good move because matatu crews were very rowdy before (at least some of them have improved), however there have been no signs of improvement in public transport since then. This saw Kenya Bus collapsing, in its place came City hopper whose schedules cannot be predicted like the former Kenya Bus. They don’t also ply some routes I wonder why. At least now Kenya Bus has been revived but they are few and they are not in full operation like they were before.
Train operations seem not to have picked up since Rift Valley Railways Consortium took over from Kenya Railways Corporation. Trains can carry a lot of passengers and improve the situation.
The Matatu industry has taken advantage of this situation to hike fares. The few ones that come into town and find crowds of people waiting will hike their fares because they know people have to go home in the evening. This leaves people with low income with no option but to walk home.
Many people are moving away from City estates to centers in the outskirts of Nairobi like Ngong , Athi River, Ruai etc., due to congestion or to their own homes. Many depending on public transport to those places really suffer. Some of these places are not densely populated as city estates, with no street lights making some places very insecure at night. So getting home late due to shortage of public transport is very risky for many.
It is my wish that the current government or the next government could come up with strategies to solve this problem.