NYERI, Kenya, Jul 30 – Public Service Vehicle operators in Nyeri have petitioned the local government to review operating permit levies in the wake of reduced earnings occasioned by the need to reconfigure vehicle sitting capacity.
COVID-19 prevention protocols outlined by the health ministry now require 14-seater vehicles to carry a maximum of eight passengers, triggering an upward adjustment in fares by about 50 per cent.
The Nyeri-Nairobi route which was initially costed at Sh350 is now priced at Sh500.
The ministry directive has seen many operators flocking inspection centres all over the county in a bid to acquire valid licenses that will allow them to operate.
Officials from 2NK, one of the saccos with vehicles plying the route, urged Governor Mutahi Kahiga to consider the plight of operators who they said cannot hike bus fares further to recoup the lost revenue.
“We in the matatu industry urge counties to be fair and reduce these charges we are covering the same distances with few passenger whom we cannot double their fares and with skyrocketing cost of fuel we will not make money,” said 2NK’s Chairperson James Kahiro.
Nyeri county charges operators operating within the county Sh3,000 a month while Nairobi county charges them Sh3,600.
During the inspection exercise, which was overseen by senior police officers, the operators were required to mark unutilized seats warning passengers against seating on them.
The health ministry had however recommended the reconfiguration of vehicles to leave behind the maximum allowable sitting capacity.
Those who will be found ferrying excess passengers risk having their transport licenses revoked.