Commuters reporting to work in many parts of the country were on Monday forced to pay double in bus fare as Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) limit the number of passengers to curb the spread of coronavirus as directed by the government.
The directive, which was issued on Friday by Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe, requires 14-seater matatu operators to reduce their passengers to 8 and 25 seaters to transport 15 passengers.
Those with a larger capacity including the SGR and other trains were ordered to keep a 60 per cent capacity.
This, CS Kagwe said will help passengers adhere to the 1.5 metres social distancing requirement.
The CS said the government will revoke licences of those Sacco’s that will fail to comply.
To remain in business, the operators said they would hike fares if the government wouldn’t look for other ways of dealing with the crisis with some calling on the government to slash fuel prices.
“Fare will certainly go up because the cost of doing business is high,” Simon Kimutai, the Chairperson Matatu Owners Association, said on Friday.
True to their word, in Nairobi, commuters were forced to pay Ksh200 from Nairobi CBD to Ngong. Normal prices in the route range from Ksh80 to Ksh100.
On Mombasa Road route, commuters are forced to pay Ksh50 in the morning up from the usual Sh30.
The same trend was witnessed in South B where commuters were forced to part with Ksh100 from the normal Ksh30.
In Umoja, the operators’ hiked fares from the normal KSh70 to Ksh200 one-way.
Kenyans took to social media to air their frustrations further calling on the government to consider lowering fuel prices amid COVID-19 crisis that has had a huge impact on the economy due to limited movement and business.
A 14 seater Matatu now carrying 8 passengers. No change in fuel prices even with global decline in crude oil due to #COVID19 . Government has done nothing to rein on oil marketers. Why would matatus not increase fare? @KenyanTraffic
— Rein (@Asamoh_) March 23, 2020
Limuru road route, matatu operators have heeded the ministry's directive ,8 passengers only in a 14 seater Matatu,fare ndio balaa kiasi @KBCChannel1 what is happening where you are? pic.twitter.com/NiRJSvWBgJ
— Caroline Kamau (@CarolNKamau) March 23, 2020
Why pay hiked matatu prices just because it's one person per two seats?
No, it doesn't work like that.
I'm also looking for the money that you are asking for with this unpaid internship😭.So please, public transport providers can y'all act as if we are in this together! #COVID19
— The Enigma ✪ (@RealAmiani_Ke) March 23, 2020
Hey mutai…matatu are hiking fare it's so not ok coz it's not like we will get extra crashes from our business which is actually very down right now..fair from kinoo to nairobi its ksh120 that double from what we normally pay…kindly post something #coronavirusinKenya
— Lord Abraham M. Mutai (@ItsMutai) March 23, 2020
The matatu Industry in Kenya is one that lacks all sense of Empathy.
In an already constrained economy, they will never cease to turn exploitative!
— Felix (@ffochieng) March 23, 2020