Kenyans are traveling upcountry in great numbers and their fears are not coronavirus but the risk of starvation that comes with having to stay indoors in the order to self-quarantine pushing bus fare to hike.
Orders for all public transport vehicles (PSV) to carry 60 percent of its previous capacity have seen SACCOs with no option but to double the bus fare to enable matatu owners to sustain the businesses.
The move to carry 60 percent of previous capacity now has 14-seater matatus carrying 8 passengers who are to sit with an empty seat dividing them to ensure distance in order to avoid the spread of the coronavirus.
On the 20th of March 2020, the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe directed that 14-seater matatus are to carry a maximum of eight passengers, while 25-seaters are to carry 15 and buses whose sitting capacity is 30 and above to have 60 percent sitting capacity.
Saccos that fail to comply with the 60 percent order will have their licenses revoked as they will have played as grounds of spread for the coronavirus.
Bus fares have greatly increased across the Nairobi county with routes that charge a mere 50 shillings one way now charging 200 shillings one way.
From Kasarani to the CBD, the bus fare is currently at 100 shillings from a previous 50 shillings while those going to Umoja are having to pay 200 shillings for the same distance they paid a maximum of 70 shillings.
Passengers stood at various pick-up points as they hope the Matatus would consider the high fares downwards.
Matatu operators have argued that someone has to pay for the empty seats to ensure business sustainability as the vehicles.
Bus fares from Ongata Rongai to the CBD are currently at 200 shillings from a previous maximum of 70 shillings.
Bus fares from the CBD to Westlands are currently ranging between 70 to 100 shillings from a previous 30 shillings.
The Matatu Owners Association chairperson Simon Kimutai has argued that hiking fares is the only way to sustain the government’s directive.
“The government has got to address this situation. Otherwise, we have no way out but to increase the fares,” Kimutai has said.
Nairobi residents have currently resulted to the use of SWVL vehicles that have been criticized for not adhering to the guidelines set out including social distancing.
A number of rogue matatus have hypocritically resulted to carrying 14 passengers and forcing them to alight as the matatu approaches police crackdown
Kenya currently has 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus including that of a senior public official who is set to face legal action for failing to quarantine and possibly transmitting the coronavirus.
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