Economy

Matatus: We won’t cut fares despite resuming full capacity

matatu (1)

Matatus along Accra Road, Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A spot check at many bus termini in Nairobi in the past two days found that commuters were paying the same fares as last week contrary to the pledge by representatives of public transport lobby groups to reduce fares from Monday.
  • The Ministry of Transport last Friday issued the directive allowing the passenger service vehicles to fill up the seats after over a year of limiting the capacity to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai, while welcoming the directive, attributed the decision to keep the old fares to the high cost of fuel and the fact that vehicle owners had lost a lot of income since the pandemic began.

Passengers who had looked to fare reliefs after matatus across the country were allowed to resume carrying full capacity have been disappointed after the operators maintained the same charges.

A spot check at many bus termini in Nairobi in the past two days found that commuters were paying the same fares as last week contrary to the pledge by representatives of public transport lobby groups to reduce fares from Monday.

The Ministry of Transport last Friday issued the directive allowing the passenger service vehicles to fill up the seats after over a year of limiting the capacity to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai, while welcoming the directive, attributed the decision to keep the old fares to the high cost of fuel and the fact that vehicle owners had lost a lot of income since the pandemic began.

“We will not reduce fare because the fuel price went up the other day and with the kind of revenue we were getting at 40 percent, it was unsustainable and the industry was collapsing. Many people have left the sector, jobs lost, vehicles auctioned among other negative impacts. We will play our part in observing the new protocols,” said Mr Kimutai.

His sentiments were echoed by the chairman of the Association of Bus Operators Edwin Mukabanah, who said that “fares in Kenya are subject to market forces of demand and supply.”

“If you reduce carrying capacity, vehicles become less as they carry fewer passengers. We hope fare will naturally come down,” he said.

Matatu owners, however, said they would enforce public health measures such as providing hand sanitser and insisting that passengers wear face masks.

A spot check in Nairobi yesterday found that this is not always adhered to strictly.

For instance, on Monday and Tuesday, many matatu saccos operating in the city centre, especially the 14-seater vans popularly known as Nissans, did not have hand sanitiser as was prescribed at the beginning of the pandemic.

Crew from bigger transport companies like City Hoppa could be seen screening passengers using temperature guns and employing hand saniter before allowing passengers in.