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Government suspends Sh20 bus fare project for Nairobi residents

The government has suspended the NYS Okoa Abiria programme that involved the use of National Youth Service buses to ease the transport crisis. 

Public Service PS Mary Kimonye told MPs yesterday that it could not sustain itself as the Sh20 standard charge could not cater for operation costs.

The programme was an intervention by President Uhuru Kenyatta and was meant to address the traffic crisis in the city, especially during peak hours. 

Kimonye made the revelations while appearing before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee.

 Kimonye said the low fare could not allow the government to continue with the initiative, hence the decision to suspend it.

It had attracted the attention of Auditor General Nancy Gathungu who questioned its sustainability. In the 2017-18 financial year, the auditor noted that out of the 27 buses earmarked for its implementation, only nine were still on city roads. The remaining 18 had broken down and were grounded.

“The programme further had no budgetary provision to fund the maintenance of the buses and other operational costs, and no subsidy funds have so far been received for the project,” the auditor observed.

In 2018, the NYS commuter services got Sh500 million from Parliament to acquire more buses to increase its fleet.

The buses started plying city roads in March 2018 amidst protests from matatu operators, who accused the government of pushing them out of business.

According to the operators, the move to charge Sh20 was creating an unfair playing field. 

According to NYS, the project was a long-term solution to Nairobi’s public transport problem.

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