As part of the ITF Our Public Transport programme, activists from Transport and Allied Workers Union (TAWU), Public Transport Operators Union (PUTON) and Matatu Workers’ Union (MWU) met at a workshop in the Kenyan capital from 16-17 March to collaborate, and speak with a collective voice about the concerns of formal and informal workers faced with BRT.
BRT is already operating in many cities around the world and is largely funded by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank.
These experiences have shown that unions need to be involved in the early stages of development to influence the model of BRT. For example, unions need a strategy to negotiate the transition from informal to formal transport jobs; otherwise thousand of jobs might be lost.
At the workshop the activists formed a working group to begin the process of building alliances with passenger and community groups to strengthen the call for democratic participation in the planning of BRT in Nairobi. As a first step the group intends to secure a place in the consultation process and ensure that the voices of marginalised groups are heard.
The unions also discussed the importance of organising in all modes of public transport, including the informal matatus (minibuses), which will provide the feeder routes to and from the BRT stations.
A workshop participant from PUTON said: “I have never felt more strongly that unions need to join hands and respond to BRT in Nairobi. Instead of reacting when BRT is already here, we are going to exert our influence at the planning stage. Each union has different strengths, and this will help us build a more strategic approach in our work”.
You can read more about the Our Public Transport campaign by searching for #OurPublicTransport on social media.