When someone like Kwame argues against something I hold dearly, most of the time I end up changing position because he always makes a strong case. So when I recently saw an article he had written arguing pro government decision to revoke the ban on registration of 14 seater matatus, I was intellectually excited; I could not wait to delve in and read his argument. I had not seen anyone in the mainstream media argue this direction, everyone was picking on the president for making a bad choice, albeit popular in some quarters.
I was therefore anxious for someone to argue contrary and actually make sense. So when I saw Kwame’s article I jumped in eager to know his point of view. Three paragraphs Later, I was still waiting for Mr. kwame to make a convincing point,... any sort of point. I have never been more disappointed! Frustrated, I turned to twitter and the following transpired( I think I need to apologize);
So what did Kwame say in his article (http://www.nation.co.ke/oped/blogs/dot9/kwame/-/2274474/2528718/-/kmii7yz/-/index.html)?
- That the justification for enacting the policy was weak-What exactly was weak? He never said
- Asset value of the existing vehicle got eroded( or would be eroded)
- Public service vehicles registered in the country form only four percent of the total registered vehicles.-I think to Mr. Kwame this is an insignificant value which does not significantly impact on the traffic )
- Choosing to only ban the 14 seater vans was a biased move
And what exactly is my argument;
First of all, I have to admit I do not have empirical evidence as to whether the 14 seaters significantly impact on the traffic or not. What I have however, is my experience as a daily commuter on these Nairobi streets (I don’t own a car) and common knowledge that one bus carrying an equivalent of three Nissans (or their about) would occupy less space, hence less congestion in the long run.
Secondly, there is no policy (with direct implications on the economy) that would favor everyone with the same weight. Be it subsidies, regulations or direct monetary policies, someone somewhere would definitely be hurt. So When Mr. Kwame argues about how owners of the vehicle were being implicated negatively, I thought that was a bit farfetched.
Thirdly, I am currently working on the National Green Economy strategy (Ps. I have been at an event where Mr. Kwame was speaking on this topic), and one of our key aims is to see the transport sector made more efficient, less polluting and well regulated. Having numerous low capacity vehicles on our streets is explicitly bad for us. The county government of Nairobi is already planning on setting up MRTs, it would therefore be counterproductive to encourage small vans on our highways with such a vision.
I loved the fact that the president revoked the ban on Matatu graphiti, that was an impressive move worth my accolades. I am however strongly against the revoking of the ban on registration of small vans, it does not align itself with the vision of this country.
Congestion, increased emissions, difficulty regulating and most of all their poor design ( quite uncomfortable) are the main reasons I am against the revocation of this policy. The president was himself on that particular day not using a 14 seater, he used on of the bigger (25+) matatus.?