NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 26 – Matatu and boda boda operators have urged the government to cushion them, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, so as to enable them continue offering services to the public.
Representatives of the operators told a news conference Thursday that unless they are exempted from monthly levies, they will have to hike fares for up to 60 percent.
They spoke even as a spotcheck by Capital News showed that fares have been hiked in various routes across the country, some as much as 100 per cent or more.
“All heads of Saccos and transport companies from today, half of your fleet remains parked at home. It does not make business sense to have a thousand matatus on the road while there are no passengers,” said Kushian Muchiri, the Chairperson of the Matatu and Bodaboda Operator’s Federation
They argued that business has been low since last week when President Uhuru Kenyatta urged companies to allow staff work from home, unless they have to be in the office.
On Wednesday, he declared and dusk to dawn curfew that kicks off at 7pm Friday.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi has already gazetted the 7pm to 6am State Curfew, outlawing gatherings or movements.
Boda Boda Association of Kenya Secretary-General Kenneth Onyango has decried the move by some counties to ban their operations despite them observing precautionary measures put in place by the Health Ministry.
“This morning we have seen counties such as Machakos overstepping their jurisdiction. Some bodaboda operators work best during the night but now with the curfew we will not earn our daily bread. As we are fighting this pandemic we need our survival to be addressed,” he said.
While announcing the directive for all Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) to limit the number of passengers last week, Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe stressed the need to prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus that has infected 31 people in Kenya.
Kagwe directed 14-seater vehicles to carry a maximum of 8 passengers while those with a capacity of 25 will carry 15 passengers in measures aimed at ensuring social distancing.
The rest including the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has a 60 percent occupancy.
He also directed all PSVs to maintain high levels of cleanliness.
“It is expected that the people will adhere to the directives of matatu operators. The idea is to stay as far away as possible from each other,” he said.
PSVs are further supposed to clean their vehicles after every trip and provide sanitizers for passengers.