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|Matatus Defy CS Mutahi Kagwe's Tough Directive by Kenyans247(m): Sat 21, March, 2020 10:35pm|
Update March 21, 4:54 p.m.: Matatus plying the Nairobi-Nanyuki route have in response adhered to Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe's directive on carrying 8 passengers in their 14 seater vehicles.
Speaking to the media on Saturday, March 21, Nanyuki Matatu Operators Chairperson Mwaniki Wagichere informed that they had raised bus fare to compensate for the deficit.
"We have ensured our stops are clean, and people are sanitized. We are carrying 8 passengers as directed, but we are charging them Ksh 700 instead of the normal Ksh 500.
"We would have charged Ksh 1,000 but taking into consideration a number of factors, and the economy regressing, we decided to charge that much," Wagichere stated.
In Nairobi, public service vehicles are yet to adhere to a directive issued by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Friday, March 21.
In line with the requirement for social distancing as a measure to curb the further spread of Covid-19, the CS directed that matatus scale down on their passenger capacities. He stated that the guidelines are aimed at reducing congestion in public service vehicles.
"14-seater matatus will carry a maximum of eight passengers; 25-seater vehicles a maximum of 15 passengers, 30 seater vehicles and above to maintain a sixty per cent maximum of sitting capacity," Kagwe stated.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke Matatu Owners Association Chairperson Simon Kemutai argued that by the directive, CS Kagwe had taken away 40 per cent the industry's income, and failed to offer a subsidy.
"When you take away 40 per cent of our revenues, which does not even count as profits, it leaves a gap. And the minister failed to address that gap.
"It is not sustainable. Businesses are down, but adding insult to injuries, public service is an essential service, if we are not sustained we will collapse also," Kimutai stated.
He added that if the government failed to offer them subsidies then the industry would fail, or result in fare hikes.
"If you cannot fuel your vehicle, pay for insurance and pay our workers, then we will go under," Kimutai stated, noting that they would not be able to sustain their businesses operating on 40 per cent less revenue, and minus subsidies from the government.
CS Kagwe had told Kenyans that the reason for the decision on matatus was to create personal space between passengers and called for co-operation.
"When this happens, it is expected that people will adhere to the directions of the PSV operators. In other words, there is no point in having eight people and then two people are sitting close together and leaving the other seats open," he warned.
The CS had further ordered all matatu operators to clean and disinfect their vehicles at the end of each trip.
Kenyans.co.ke has since established that the directive is yet to be followed, with PSV still carrying passengers at full capacity.
A Matatu driver plying the Nairobi CBD-Uthiru route told Kenyans.co.ke that the directive was beyond what they could handle at the moment, adding that it was easier to fumigate and wash hands rather than carry fewer passengers.
"We have families to feed, and most of us depend on the money we make on a daily basis. If my employer doesn't meet his target for the day, then I am underpaid for the day as well," the driver, who sought anonymity stated.
"We still don't think that the situation has become that bad, and the CS should consider that such a directive also hurts us in the processes," he added.
He too blamed the CS Kagwe for not offering the sector another option, which according to him should be less tough.
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