A spot-check by Kenyans.co.ke on Monday, March 23 in Nairobi revealed many matatu operators had failed to comply with guidelines issued by the government as part of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) response.
Fourteen-seater matatus had been directed to carry a maximum of eight passengers, with 25-seater vehicles to carry a maximum of fifteen passengers. Vehicles with a sitting capacity of 30 and above were also to maintain a passenger capacity, not in excess of 60% of the total occupancy.
Matatu crews were also to sanitize their vehicles and to provide hand-washing equipment to all passengers.
As Kenyans.co.ke observed, varying levels of compliance were effected by different matatu operators and SACCOs in the city.Inside an Embassava matatu in the Nairobi CBD on March 23, 2020 in compliance with the social distancing policyKenyans.co.ke
Many of the vehicles who complied with the directive on social distancing hiked fares to compensate for the lost income.
On the Thika-Nairobi route, for instance, passengers who are usually charged Ksh50-Ksh70 to get to the Central Business District (CBD) from Thika town were charged Ksh100.
A number of SACCOs, however, failed to comply with the social distancing directive with a Lopha Travels matatu, for instance, spotted fully packed with passengers.
The fare from Buruburu estate to the Nairobi CBD was also hiked to Ksh100 while Umoinner Sacco also raised fares from Umoja to the CBD from Ksh30 to Ksh80.
A number of vehicles on the Waiyaki Way route also failed to comply with the directives, with a Star Bus vehicle, for instance, seen carrying excess passengers.
Many of the vehicles on the route also failed to offer hand-washing tools or hand-sanitizer to passengers.
Kiragi, Kimao and Bureti SACCOs plying the Kibera-Nairobi route complied with the social distancing directive but raised their fares.
Several of the matatus also appeared to ditch conductors in what seemed to be a cost-cutting strategy.
A number of the matatus operating in the city, however, fully complied with the directives and were praised by passengers.
Rembo Shuttle vehicles plying the Mombasa Road route, for instance, did not hike fares and adhered to the social distancing directive.
Some vehicles under Star Bus plying the Uthiru-Nairobi route also offered passengers sanitizer, adhered to the rules and did not hike fares.
Embassava Sacco vehicles were also praised for not raising fares and complying with the directives.
Matatu operators who spoke to Kenyans.co.ke complained of the negative impact the directives would have on their livelihoods.
"Work is bad today, very bad. I'm used to making much more but because of the directive on the maximum passengers, I have to sacrifice," stated a driver who identified himself as John Kariuki.A Star Bus vehicle full of passengers pictured in Nairobi on Monday, March 23, 2020
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