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Business Unusual as PSVs resume Full carriage capacity

Last week, the government allowed public service vehicles (PSVs) to resume Full carriage capacity on Monday. Strict Covid -19 measures to be taken into consideration. It’s almost one year and some months since the government reduced carriage capacity of PSVs with an aim to curb the spread of the virus. Matatu owners and other entrepreneurs have embraced the new directive, as the business was already going below the profitable reach.

Roads are Open

On Friday, the 6th of August the government opened doors for more carrying capacity of PSVs in the country.

Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure said the government would allow matatus to begin operating at full passenger capacity from Monday, August 9. The CAS said the decision was made after reviewing Covid-19 protocols.

“We need to build confidence that we can allow for full capacity while at the same time ensuring continued protection against the spread of rapidly mutating variants of Covid-19,’’ Obure said.

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The Fourth wave

The announcement comes only a few days after Kemri announced a fourth wave in the country.

For more than an year now, Matatus and buses have been operating at 60 per cent capacity to maintain social distancing. The CAs said they had agreed to allow the industry to self-regulate and ensure all matatus have hand sanitisers.

‘‘As you are all aware, the number of Covid-19 cases has risen sharply in the country in the last few weeks. This new spike is attributed to the more transmissible Delta variant and calls for strict compliance with measures that have been put in place to minimise the spread of the pandemic,’’ Obure said while speaking to stakeholders in the sector.

‘‘All passengers must wear masks, are to be screened for body temperature using contact-free thermometer. No passenger is allowed to board if their body temperature is above 37.5 degrees Celsius and has other signs of Covid-19, including cough or shortness of breath,’’ said a statement issued after the meeting.

Biggest loss in the economy

Matatu operators revealed they had lost Ksh31 billion since March 2020, when the government issued new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

In March 2020 the government issued new directives to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus through public means of transport.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe gave guidelines that aimed at reducing congestion in public service vehicles.

The CS announced that 14-seater matatus would 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 sitting capacity.

He further informed that the new guidelines issued would similarly extend to the Standard Guage Railway (SGR) and commuter trains plying through the country every single day.

Kagwe further 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

However the Matatu business people resorted on hiking the prices to meet the expenses of rising fuel and cost of road operation.

But the directive did not come without opposition from the matatu sector and a hike in fare prices by the PSVs. In May 2021, just a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta lifted the cessation of movement within the counties the operators threatened to increase fares.

The operators lamented over some of the safety measures such as the 60 per cent carrying capacity as they appealed to the government to review the capacity directives imposed on PSVs.

They argued that the extra cost would cater for the high cost of fuel and other expenses. For instance, a section of buses heading to Nairobi from Mombasa noted that they would hike the fare to over Ksh2,000 if their plight is not looked into.

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Matatu Owners Association (MOA) of Kenya boss Simon Kimutai had issued three demands for lowering fares after Uhuru had imposed the travel ban on the five counties.

He noted that the costs would only be relaxed if the state lowered the high cost of fuel, licensing demands as well as monthly fees all matatus remit to county governments.

How the new directive will benefit the Business people.

The matatu drivers and the passengers have a reason to smile after the PSV authority has allowed resumption of 100% carrying capacity in the matatu from 9th August 2021. This will help to lower the transport costs by passengers.

By opening up of the economy SMEs are hoping to embark on serious shipment of commodities and services due to an expected fall in transportation. Despite the laxity and resistance expected from Matatu operators, the directive hopes to channel down without any effect from the rising fuel costs.

It’s the biggest step of economic recovery. More activities ensue the nation as from next week.

Mombasa, Kenya.

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