Starting monday August 9, Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) or Matatus, will be allowed to carry passengers to full capacity. The government issued the announcement this afternoon, revoking an order issued to the industry last year.
Following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the government put in place various protocols to help curb the spread of the virus. Sanitizing, social distancing and wearing masks became a way of life. To ensure that there was social distancing in matatus, they were ordered to leave a space between commuters.
The enforcement of the rule resulted in the redesign of a section of PSVs, such as those of the No.9 Eastleigh route which were rebuilt to have a space between seats. The normal smaller matatus have been carrying eight passengers plus the conductor instead of the normal thirteen.
Due to the reduction in the number of commuters ferried once, most matatus increased fares for various routes in efforts to recover the lost difference. However, with the struggling economy and high cost of living, the commuters have felt the pinch in payment of fares.
Unbeknown to the government, most matatus especially in Nairobi abandoned the directive at the beginning of the year and started carrying to full capacity. A spot check at some of the city’s popular routes along Ngong road, Jogoo road, Mombasa road and Thika road reveals that most PSVs carry passengers to full capacity.
The announcement today means more commuters will be able to travel to and from their places of work at once. Netizens were taken aback by the directive, seeing as Kenya is currently dealing with high infection rates of the Covid-19 Delta variant.
More Kenyans are now waiting with bated breaths for the government to lift the 10pm to 4am curfew. Several businesses such as hotels and nightclubs have closed and suffered losses due to the inability to operate at their prime hours.