Why planned opening of Green Park terminus had to be postponed
When Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) on Monday postponed the opening of the Green Park bus terminus that was slated for Tuesday, it explained that public service vehicles (PSV) operators had asked for more time.
But unbeknownst to the public, this was just a smokescreen to hide the elephant in the room that has delayed the opening for more than a year.
“Nairobi Metropolitan Services wishes to notify the public that the [opening] of the Green Park Bus Terminal that was set to commence on May 24, 2022, has been postponed following a request for time extension by PSV operators. The new date will be duly communicated,” said NMS in a statement on Monday.
But PSV operators have denied calling for any extension, let alone having any meeting with NMS.
Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairperson Simon Kimutai said they had not met with NMS and he was perplexed.
“You know these people create anything. I am not aware as (head of) an association of any meeting with NMS. Maybe they met some busybodies instead of the main associations with true representation in the industry. They are looking for an escape route so that they do not come out as failures,” Mr Kimutai said.
But he said he was not surprised by the delay, saying it was bound to happen because the project was initiated without involving stakeholders.
“Why are they postponing the launch? For how long will they postpone it? What is the problem? They know it cannot happen,” said the MOA boss.
“When do you consult, after executing a project or before? Even before deciding that these are the places we are going to put up the termini, you got to engage with the stakeholders so that you execute the project together. We are not asking for any money.”
Federation of Public Transport Sector secretary Dickson Mbugua said they had not met with NMS or asked for an extension.
But he said the federation had written to President Uhuru Kenyatta two months ago asking officials to delay the relocation of matatus to Green Park terminal until their grievances had been resolved.
“Remember these facilities were developed without public participation yet our 2010 Constitution dictates that stakeholders must be involved in any public utility by participating in the project formulation,” said Mr Mbugua.
“If any government agencies formulate and develop a project based on boardroom decisions, chances of it backfiring during implementation is high. That's the reality of the matter.”
This was not the first time the launching of the Sh250 million bus stage failed to take off.
A statement from Lt-Gen Mohamed Badi’s administration said the terminus was to start operating on Tuesday in phases after more than a year of waiting.
Relocate all matatus
The new development came after NMS in March said plans to relocate all matatus from the Nairobi city centre would begin in May, with the first PSVs to be affected being those plying the Ngong, Lang’ata and Argwings Kodhek roads.
Matatus plying the Ngong and Argwings Kodhek roads were to start using the terminus first, on May 24. They were to be followed three days later by the Lang'ata Road ones.
Nonetheless, the plans ran into headwinds after one of the contractors threatened to go to court because he had not been paid.
At the same time, Kenya Railways pensioners, who owned the land where the bus stage sits, were also on the neck of NMS, seeking to be paid.
The land was acquired from the 8,000-member Kenya Railways staff retirement benefits scheme run by the national government.
The scheme’s trustees said they signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Treasury on December 23, 2020, on compensation for the compulsory acquisition of the Nairobi Railway Club.
As part of the deal, the Treasury was to release Sh105 million for monthly pension payments with effect from January 1, 2021 for three years.
The Treasury was also to undertake the servicing of a KCB loan at the rate of Sh300 million every fiscal year and clear all outstanding statutory deductions, pension arrears and legal fees owed by the pensioners.
The scheme valued the property at Sh17 billion and the Retirement Benefits Authority at Sh13.5 billion. But the National Lands Commission and the Ministry of Lands valued it at Sh7.9 billion, and this is what was to be paid under the deal struck with Kenha to purchase the 18-acre land as the procuring entity.
Last year, the government paid a lump sum of Sh1.2 billion to cover the 12 months but it is yet to remit any funds this year, with five months having elapsed.
The Treasury also reneged on all promises, leading KCB to recover its loan from rentals run by the pension scheme.
Hell broke loose
Following a demonstration by the pensioners outside the Treasury building about two weeks ago, the Treasury promised to release Sh650 million by Friday last week. But when this promise was not honoured, all hell broke loose.
Scheme members demanded payment before they would allow the commissioning of the terminus by President Uhuru Kenyatta to proceed. The deal has no provisions for a remedy or recourse in the event of a default.
The Treasury only responded positively yesterday afternoon after a spirited appeal by the pensioners to President Kenyatta for intervention.
But that was not all. George Osborne Yogo, the boss of contractor Fairton Agencies Limited, claimed his company was yet to receive a single penny from NMS for its work on the terminal.
He demanded that the entity make a written commitment within 24 hours on a payment plan for the over Sh90 million he is allegedly owed or else he would head to court.
“We are going to go to court to seek an injunction to ensure that this facility will not be launched by Tuesday as planned because there is no way for the President to launch the terminus yet we have not been paid,” said Mr Yogo.
For their part, NMS officials denied having awarded Fairton a Sh98 million contract, saying the contractual engagement was with China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the construction of hangars and other related facilities on November 5, 2020.
The terminus, located at the former Lunar Park, was constructed as a pick-up and drop-off point for matatus plying the Ngong, Lang’ata, Argwings Kodhek, Bunyala and Lusaka roads and Raila Odinga Way.
This is meant to serve the satellite towns of Ngong, Karen, Rongai, Kikuyu, Dagoretti, Kawangware, Kibra, Highrise, Ngumo, Langata, Nairobi West, Makadara, Kaberia, Satellite and Kiserian.
Consequently, matatus now using Railway Station and Hakati termini, Tom Mboya Street, and Moi Avenue from Agro House to Development House and plying the routes above were to move to Green Park.
The terminus can accommodate between 300 and 350 vehicles at any one time, processing about 1,000 PSVs per hour and up to 20,000 per day.
Three test runs have been conducted at Green Park, with the first leading to improvements of exit points, the second on pickup points and exit points, and the last on the terminal’s operations.
The terminus is one of seven out-of-city termini being constructed by NMS as part of the Nairobi Integrated Urban Development Master Plan (NIUPLAN), which seeks to ensure a reliable and efficient transport system in the city.
Others are Fig Tree, Muthurwa, Desai and Park Road, Muthurwa-Ladhies Road, Globe Roundabout, and one at the junction of Bunyala and Workshop Road.