The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) has stopped the licensing of 14-seater matatus, throwing into confusion thousands of investors who operate on various routes across the country.
Only 24 out of nearly 200 14-seater matatu saccos that last month obtained temporary court orders stopping the regulator from denying them licences are having their operating permits renewed.
There are more than 37,000 14-seater matatus on Kenyan roads, as per the Economic Survey data.
The Association of Matatu Operators that represents 195 saccos has moved to court accusing NTSA of declining to license their members on grounds that they are not part of the suit and therefore cannot enjoy the High Court order.
Legal Notice 179 of December 31, 2014 that stopped licensing of 14-seater matatus came into effect on January 1.
Some 24 Nairobi matatu saccos on December 19 moved to court and obtained orders temporarily suspending the ban until February 15, 2019.
NTSA has declined to extend protection of the order to other saccos.
“The 1st respondent (NTSA) has discriminated against members of the applicant association in processing of road service licences and barred them from renewing road service PSV licence, alleging they were not party to petition 440 of 2018,” says the association in its petition.
They have listed NTSA and the attorney-general as the respondents.
‘Discriminatory and unreasonable’
The association claims that the court decision is binding to all across the sector regardless of whether someone is a party to it or not, terming NTSA’s interpretation of the order as discriminatory and unreasonable.
The High Court has asked the association to serve NTSA and return to court for further directions on January 11.
The Legal Notice ordered a stop in the licensing of PSVs that carry fewer than 25 passengers from January 1, 2016, but it was not implemented at the time.
Transport secretary James Macharia last month said reliance on matatus was not sustainable and linked it to the congestion and disorder common in major urban areas, including Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.
But despite the temporary reprieve for 14-seater matatus, Justice Chacha Mwita will issue a comprehensive ruling on February 15, 2019, the day the temporary order will lapse unless the court extends it.
The buses are to be deployed on the already-marked Thika Super Highway and other major roads within the capital Nairobi.
The government plans to launch five Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) corridors in Nairobi to ease traffic congestion in the capital.
Priority corridors include Limuru-Kangemi-CBD-Imara Daima–Athi River to Kitengela Road.
Other motorways identified are Rongai, Bomas-CBD-Ruiru-Thika- Kenol-Murang’a road and Tala-Njiru-Dandora–CBD-Ngong Road.
At their optimum capacity, the corridors are expected to hold up to 950 high capacity buses, reducing travel time and cost by up to 70 percent, according to Mr Macharia.
The Sh9.6 billion BRT plan last November got a major boost after the European Union committed Sh5 billion to it.
On December 3, Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko banned all matatus from entering Nairobi city centre in a bid to decongest the central business district.
The move, however, worsened the traffic on all routes entering the city, forcing the governor to lift the ban a day later.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.