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Capital Health

Distress as PSV operators hike fares in wake of social distancing order

KIAMBU, Kenya, Mar 23 – Kenyans using public service vehicles will have to dig dip into their pockets, as operators hiked fares on Monday following the coming into effect of a directive on social distancing which halved the permissible number of passengers per vehicle.

While most of the crew observed the new measures which have seen 14-seater vehicles admit a maximum of eight passengers, they have shifted the cost to cash-strained commuters.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe announced mandatory enforcement of the directive on Sunday in additional measures undertaken by government to forestall the spread of the coronavirus which has so far seen fifteen people infected, all having arrived from countries battling COVID-19, a pandemic that has claimed over 14,000 lives globally.

Those plying the Ruaka-Nairobi route were Monday paying Sh100, an increase from Sh50.

PSVs plying the Outer Ring-CBD route were charging Sh100 up from Sh50.

“I left home at 5.40a.m. and I was shocked that they have increased to Sh100. On a normal day, it ranges from Sh30 to Sh50,” one of the affected passengers told Capital News Monday morning.

The government is yet to address the issue, which might weigh down on many Kenyans, whose source of income is equally threatened.

“They want to profiteer yet we’re not even guaranteed of customers ourselves at our respective working places,” another commuter added.

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A similar situation played out for PSVs along Thika road.

The government declared the move to reduce the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Dozens others are awaiting results for them to know their status, while the government is pursuing more than 300 individuals who came into contact with those infected.

The government has announced a raft of measures, some that will impact directly on people’s income, but save their lives.

Hardest hit sectors include the hospitality industry which relies on events and tourists.

Kagwe Sunday declared that international flights will stand suspended effective March 25.

The directive exempted cargo flights whose crew, he said, “must observe strict safety guidelines.”

Other measures include closure of entertainment joints like bars until further notice.

All in-bound passengers to the country will also have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine at their own cost.

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“Those coming into the country between now and Wednesday may they be foreigners or Kenyans, will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government-designated facility at their own expenses,” he said.


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