14-seater commuter vehicles or matatus will not be licensed for public transport as of 2007 in an attempt to relieve congestion on Kenyas roads. The decision, announced by transport and communication permanent secretary Gerishon Ikiara at a recent United Nations workshop on transport in Nairobi, follows the announcement of plans to phase out 14-seater matatus earlier this year.
However, in a concession to matatu operators worried about the cost of purchasing a new larger vehicle or going out of business, Ikiara said 14 seaters that have already been licensed can continue to operate until they wear out naturally. The new licensing rules apply to vehicles operating in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru and Eldoret.
Roughly 55,000 matatus operate services across Kenya, of which an estimated 45,000 are of the 14-seater type. Not only do they cause congestion but they are also extremely dangerous and often crash.