There is no doubt that the passenger transport has been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. Matatus have been forced to carry few passengers as part of a set of containment measures instituted by the government in a bid to slow the spread of the virus that continues to claimed lives.
With the government also discouraging matatu operators against increasing fares, the industry has certainly been driving on a rocky road since President Uhuru Kenyatta announced social distancing rules and imposed a countrywide night curfew. The situation is particularly tougher for matatu owners who took loans to buy their vehicles.
Therefore, the proposal to redesign the 33-seater buses to accommodate 23 commuters is a good move. This will enable matatu owners to earn their livelihoods and returns on their investments while meeting other financial obligations.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) should therefore move with speed to give this proposal the required regulatory approval. It is a clearly a win-win for efforts to keep the spread of the virus in check while ensuring that the transport sector, which is a key pillar of the economy, continues to operate profitably.