Matatu Owners Vow to Defy New Govt Directive

  • Buses and matatus pick up upcountry travellers at Nairobi's famous Machakos country bus station
    Long distance buses at Nairobi's Machakos Country Bus Station in a photo dated November 2017
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  • Matatu owners on Wednesday, November 24, vowed to defy a directive issued by the Ministry of Health on the Covid-19 travel requirements.

    Speaking during an interview with a local media station, the Matatu Owners Association Chairman, Simon Kimutai, vowed to defy  the directives requiring matatu operators (drivers and conductors) to produce proof of vaccination, terming them unrealistic.

    Health Cabinet Secretary, Mutahi Kagwe, had earlier on announced that matatu operators, conductors and passengers would be required to show proof of vaccination before being allowed to go about their businesses.

    Matatu owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai (right) and National Co-ordinator Albert Karagacha arriving at Railways club in Nairobi on April 13,2016.
    Matatu owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai (right) and National Co-ordinator Albert Karagacha arriving at Railways club in Nairobi.

    "We have to be very practical, and at the same time it looks like a blackmail," Kimutai stated.

    He added that the Kagwe-led Ministry had made the decision without consulting the stakeholders in the matatu industry, further stating that they are yet to receive an official communication from the Ministry on the same.

    The chairman accused the government of trying to use the public sector transport to achieve its set vaccination target.

    The matatu owners further told CS Kagwe that their businesses were private enterprises and that they should not be subjected to such measures. They further called on the government to offer incentives to people to ensure that as many as possible are vaccinated.

    "One thing we would like to remind the Ministry of Health is that the matatu industry is private business and that unless the government is ready to give us subsidies in lieu of the same, then, we cannot follow those directives," remarked Kimutai.

    Kimutai concluded that it would be impossible to deny Kenyans services on grounds that they are not vaccinated.

    On November 23, the National Taskforce on Vaccine Deployment Chairperson, Willis Akhwale, however, clarified the matter noting that Kagwe's statement was misunderstood.

    Justifying the measures put in place while speaking to Citizen TV on Tuesday, November 23, Akhwale stated that the jab will not be mandatory. He made it clear that the measures will only apply to people seeking to get in-person services who will be required to produce a certificate in order to receive government services.

    Akwale added that Kagwe did not issue threats but just laid out the agreed procedures on vaccine inoculation.

    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe
    Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe