The National Transport and Safety Authority wants SWVL to stop operations in Nairobi. They have also called for the prosecution of CEO Mostafa Kandil for what they call illegal operations. The Authority has gone ahead and written to the Inspector General of Police on the matter.

NTSA has one argument against SWVL: the company has not been licensed by either the agency or by City Hall to ply the routes it is operating in.

This means NTSA is treating SWVL like all other Matatu operators. Which means they need to seek approval to use certain routes as Matatus are never allowed to ply all routes.

This argument however makes no sense for normal SWVL users like myself. Because of a couple of reasons:

  1. SWVL doesn’t operate like normal matatus. They don’t have conductors, and they don’t stop on all stages.
  2. The Authority wanted SWVL to acquire proper PSV licences to work in the city, which they have.
  3. Ubers, and other taxi companies also have PSV licences and can ply whichever routes they want to.

The problem though is that SWVL after the first NTSA wrangles on PSV licences, went ahead and brought on board very many 14 seater matatus and buses from existing Matatu saccos. This has made them indistinguishable from normal matatus on the roads. Which one could argue should force them to operate like normal matatus.

NTSA – if they are to be seen as a forward thinking authority – should not however force a remarkable idea to die because of old school policies. SWVL should be categorised differently from normal matatus, and allowed to ply all routes as Ubers and other Taxi apps are allowed provided they follow certain regulations that can be set as time goes by. If we are to find ways to make Nairobi better, and less congested, then we shouldn’t fight ideas that are helping solve the problems we currently face.

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