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NTSA blocked in 14-seater matatus licensing suit

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Passengers alight from a 14-seater matatu in Mombasa. PHOTO | LABAN WALLOGA 

The High Court has temporarily blocked the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) from bringing to an end the licensing of 14-seater matatus.

Justice Enoch Chacha Mwita issued the directive after 24 matatu saccos from Nairobi moved to court and challenged the government’s plan to phase out low-capacity Public Service Vehicles.

“An order of prohibition is hereby issued until February 15 prohibiting the NTSA from effecting Section 4(2) and 4(3) of Legal notice 179 of December 31, 2014 when processing the Road Service PSV licenses for the petitioners,” said justice Mwita.

The judge said that he will issue a comprehensive ruling on February 15 since the government had indicated that the first batch of 11 trains and 64 high-capacity commuter buses will arrive in Nairobi around that time.

The restriction of 14-seater vans in favour of buses is one of the strategies being employed to decongest urban zones.

On December 7, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia indicated that reliance on matatus is not sustainable and linked it to the congestion and disorder common in major urban areas such as Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

He also indicated that the plan will be implemented in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya within a period of two to three years.

But the announcement did not go down well with matatu operators who felt short-changed saying that the government plans to replace them with trains and Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT).

In case documents filed by the saccos, they have accused NTSA of acting contrary to their legitimate expectation.

Through lawyer Harrison Kinyanjui, they argued that over 200,000 families will remain without income should the NTSA have its way.

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