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Bodaboda riders support relocation of operations to new bus park

Bodaboda operators in Nyeri have welcomed a move to relocate all public service vehicles from the old main bus park to the new Field Marshal Muthoni Kirima Matatu terminus.

Speaking to KNA, Nyeri Bodaboda Association Chair Charles Ndegwa termed the directive as a windfall for them since it would lead to additional clients and higher income.

The new bus terminus, which was completed two years ago, has been out of operation owing to incessant opposition from matatu operators and business people at the old bus park, who claim any relocation will greatly negatively impact their earnings.

But the county government appears to have overcome the stiff opposition after President Dr. William Ruto officially commissioned the Sh 600 million new facility on August 7 this year.

Ndegwa now says those operating at the old terminus must get ready to shift, insisting the move will greatly improve service delivery and also address the chaotic scenes that have become synonymous at the park due to constant traffic gridlock, especially during rush hours.

“We greatly laud the move by the County Government calling for the relocation of all public service vehicles from the old Matatu terminus to the newly commissioned Field Marshall Muthoni Kirima since this will effectively address numerous gridlocks occasioned by congestion at the main terminus, ’he pointed out.

“On the other hand, the 1.5-kilometre journey from the new terminus to the town CBD will also require commuters to enlist our services, and this means our 1,300 riders who operate within the town have their work cut out, and at a higher cost at that,” he added.

When we inquired whether the new hiked fares will not hurt their clients, Ndegwa insisted that change is ruthless and people must be ready to embrace it, inconveniences notwithstanding.

He also disclosed that only bodaboda riders who have been registered with Sacco will be allowed to operate from the new terminus in accordance with the County Government’s by-laws and urged those who are not affiliated with any of the Saccos to do so before the new terminus becomes fully operational.

“We have at least 1,300 bodaboda riders operating within Nyeri town alone, and out of this number, only 200 have been enlisted with Saccos, meaning a large number of our members are still operating outside the laid-down county by-laws. We are now encouraging all our members to get registered as soon as possible in order to be able to access clients who will be alighting at the new bus park as required by the county authorities,” he pointed out.

The official also thanked Nyeri Catholic Church Archbishop Anthony Muheria for sponsoring safety training drills for bodaboda operators within the county and noted that the move has greatly helped in reducing road accidents among their ranks.

Apart from the safety drills, the church has also been conducting financial literacy classes for the riders in a bid to enable them to become economically empowered even after exiting the boda boda riding occupation.

So fruitful are such sensitisation workshops that Nyeri Traffic Base Commander Justus Mumo recently attributed them to a drastic reduction of bodaboda accidents in the county since the beginning of the year.

While speaking to the media last month, Mumo said the field trainings, which also bring together various transport sector players like the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA), and Nyeri National Polytechnic, had seen the number of accidents reduce to only five fatalities since January this year.

“To address the challenge of accidents among our bodaboda riders, my office has decided to bring on board various stakeholders in the transport sector in conducting road safety sensitization workshops for our bodaboda riders. During these meetings, we have emphasised the need for the riders to observe strict safety rules at all times and ensure they are operating in accordance with the traffic laws of the country. The efforts have greatly lowered the number of accidents in Nyeri and made our roads safer for all and sundry,” he said.

During its commissioning, Ruto said the Field Marshall Muthoni Kirima facility will ensure that the over 150 traders who were relocated from the Dedan Kimathi Kamkunji grounds will be in a position to conduct their business in a conducive environment.

“I have set aside Sh 150 million for the construction of the sheds, and I have directed the Land CS, Zacharia Njeru, and the Housing Principal Secretary, Charles Hinga, to ensure that the construction starts in the next one and a half months and is completed in the next six months so that traders are able to conduct their businesses,” he said during the event on August 7 this year.

In addition, the terminus will also be equipped with free public Wi-Fi hotspots after President Ruto directed the Ministry of Information, Communication, and the Digital Economy to connect the facility with the internet.

This, he said, will ensure that the different cadres of business people in the terminus leverage e-commerce.

“I know you have smartphones, and sometimes affording bundles to place an order for your stock can be a challenge. I have directed the CS in charge of ICT to connect the terminus to Wi-Fi, so by next Friday this terminus will have free internet,” he said during the commissioning on Monday, August 7.

The modern bus terminus, which has been touted as one of the largest bus parks in the country, was put up at a cost of Sh600 million through the Kenya Urban Support Programme, with funding from the World Bank.

The facility features 240 matatu, bus, taxi, and tuk-tuk bays; 98 booking offices; 40 parking bays; 51 lorry bays; and 94 passenger waiting bays.

In addition, the park will boast of 600 business stalls, five sanitation blocks, high-level water tanks, and a modern solid waste chamber.

By Samuel Maina

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