Matatus want night travel ban revised

Friday, October 8th, 2021 00:00 | By
A photo file of Matatus PHOTO/COURTESY

The public transport sector has appealed to the government to lift the ban on night movement, citing huge financial losses brought about by the night curfew.

Operators of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) said that besides the heavy financial losses incurred, the night curfew has also exposed travellers to immense sufferings, such as forcing them to spend nights in vehicles wherever the curfew deadline finds them.

The operators also promised to rally their members, to be vaccinated against Covid-19; thus boosting the government’s efforts to vaccinate at least 5.8 million people in the next 12 days.
Revise travel ban

To commemorate the 58th Mashujaa Day since the country got independence, the government has set October 20 as a timeline it intends to have the 5.8 million people vaccinated.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai said cases of passengers being forced to spend nights inside the PSVs had become a matter of concern.

“The night travel ban has inconvenienced small and medium-sized enterprises and ended up exposing many people to the virus, especially when they are forced to spend long hours in the PSVs,” he noted.

Operators in the transport sector now join some medics, who have also been pushing the government to revise the night travel ban, which they say is not helping other than impacting negatively on the economy.

Last week, Prof Omu Anzala and Dr Gitahi Githinji argued that the curfew has outlived its usefulness, and called on the government to consider removing it so that it can re-enforce it when need arises.

Counties were also not spared for charging what Kimutai termed as punitive parking charges on vehicles operating in their areas of jurisdiction, saying they are unhelpful to the struggling economy.

“How can I pay Sh10,000 for the space that does not exist? They are taking advantage by making us pay per passenger,” he noted calling for the revision of the parking fees.

Kimutai said the sector that has about 100, 000 transport service providers are making losses in the wake of Coronavirus.

The vaccination drive is being rolled out under the theme ‘Pata Chanjo, Tuimarishe Usafiri’ to mean getting vaccinated to improve movement of goods and services, which Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe, said is timely for the industry which is seen as highly risky.

“This is why we are unveiling an ambitious campaign, in which we are seeking to vaccinate over a million operators in the public transport sector,” Kagwe said.

He said the struggling sector has a massive number of people making it high risk.

“You are in the front line as well. Without you, our health workers can’t go to work. We are much weaker without you,” the CS observed.

The CS said the economy will be opened once the government has vaccinated the entire population.

His Transport counterpart, James Macharia admitted the industry is a high risk as the crew come in contact with hundreds of commuters on a daily basis.

“99 per cent of Kenyans use the public transport sector to move from one point to the other,” CS Macharia said.

The drive will be undertaken jointly with the ministry of health and other government institutions and in partnership with the Federation of the Public Transport sector; an organisation advocating for the rights and interest of players in the sector.

While lauding the efforts that the Health ministry has put in place to bring the positivity rates of Covid-19 down, Macharia urged the sector to adhere to the protocols that have been put in place.

Positivity rate

“The reduced positivity rate has seen Kenya removed from the red list, which is a big achievement,” Macharia said.

Macharia urged players in the industry to ensure that the cashless system that is currently being deliberated by the ministry is adopted.

“Handling money is a problem as it cannot be sanitised. We will work with the National Transport and Safety Authority to ensure that the cashless system is implemented,” Macharia said.

The CS said the ministry will work with the Council of Governors to scale up the drive. Transport PS Joseph Njoroge, Bus Operators of Kenya Association chairman Edwin Mukabana, were present.

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