Kenya shelves plan to import high capacity buses from South Africa

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Kenya has reversed its decision to import 30 high capacity buses from South Africa at a cost of Ksh500 million ($5 million).

Transport secretary James Macharia on Wednesday said preference will now be given to local producers of passenger vehicle bodies to supply buses for the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) services. The buses are to be deployed on the already-marked Thika Super Highway and other major roads within the capital Nairobi.

The first batch of the 30 BRT vehicles, which had already been identified in South Africa, is expected to arrive in the country next week.

“We are committed to engaging local manufacturing and assembling capacity in provision of these buses and pushing for policies that encourage private sector-led investments in the automotive and transport sectors,” Macharia said.

“We have no intentions or desire to import these buses from South Africa,” he said.

The Kenyan government is set to launch the six BRT corridors in Nairobi in a move aimed at reducing traffic congestion in the capital.

Some of the priority corridors will include the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to Likoni, James Gichuru-Rironi and Bomas to Ruiru roads.

The BRT buses plan, however, face stiff opposition from matatu operators. A few months ago Nairobi matatu owners vowed to frustrate the initiative saying they were not consulted.

The Association of Matatu Operators in the city’s CBD chairman Jamal Ibrahim said they wanted a level field created, adding that the government cannot expect operators to charge the same or lower fares as the already deployed NYS buses yet they are being levied different charges to operate.

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