Launched in March 2018, the buses served commuters plying the Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi, and Kawangware routes.
By Clinton Ochieng
The National Youth Service (NYS) commuter bus has suspended its operations after running out of funds. This begs the question, will this country ever have a system that will run without any problems? It seems as though problems and government entities are twins.
It has emerged that the program known as Okoa Abiria, which was a directive by President Uhuru Kenyatta, did not have a budgetary allocation to finance its operations.
This is quite staggering since when the president gives directives then his group of advisers ought to look into how it will come to pass with the current budget in play.
Uhuru had directed the introduction of the NYS buses to various routes in Nairobi to address the public transport crisis in the capital city. Launched in March 2018, the buses served commuters plying the Kibera, Githurai, Mwiki, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Dandora, Kariobangi, and Kawangware routes.
Then NYS Director-General Richard Ndubai had described the ambitious project as a solution to the chaotic public transport, especially in densely populated estates in Nairobi.
National Assembly had in 2018 approved a 500 million shillings allocation to the service to acquire more buses. Plans were underway to increase the commuter buses to 50 to enhance their efficiency.
Public Service Principal Secretary Mary Kimonye has told the Public Accounts Committee chaired by Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi that the service has since been stopped as the 20 Shillings charged per trip could not sustain its running.
The 20 Shillings fare transport charge could not meet operational costs hence putting the sustainability of the project at stake. The service was charging a flat rate irrespective of the distance. This lead to most of the buses being grounded after they broke down and could not be repaired due to lack of funds.
“This was a presidential directive to aid citizens when the transport sector had a crisis. The observation by the audit office is factual since the buses have reduced from 27 to nine,” said Kimonye.
Clinton is a journalist with a nose for news that cuts across socioeconomic issues.