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Economy

Transport jobs at risk on Covid-19 travel restrictions

Long-distance passenger transporters are counting losses with the prospect of job cuts
Long-distance passenger transporters are counting losses with the prospect of job cuts. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Long-distance passenger transporters are counting losses with the prospect of job cuts after being forced to suspend operations due to the State directive that restricts movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties for 21 days to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Managers of domestic airlines, bus firms and railways services told the Business Daily that hundreds of their staff face pay cuts or losing jobs now that their fleets have been grounded.

“Our buses are grounded following the State directive to restrict movement across the four counties,” said Easy Coach managing director Azym Dossa.

He said the firm, which mainly plies between Nairobi and western Kenya, has started issuing out ticket refunds but passengers are also allowed to change bookings to travel at a later date.

Easy Coach workers will be sent on leave but should the situation improve, they will be recalled to work, he added.

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Guardian Coach, which plies routes such as Nakuru, Kericho, Kisumu-Mbale, Kakamega and Busia, also confirmed that their services remain suspended.

A representative of the company said the firm would allow passengers to rebook their tickets to travel in the next three months, following which it will be deemed to have expired.

“We are not giving back cash. A passenger who had booked a ticket will be allowed to reschedule travel within three months duration,” he said on condition of anonymity.

Kenya Railways said they have also suspended Madaraka Express trains service to Mombasa and Naivasha.

The standard gauge railway freight services will continue uninterrupted, on a 24-hour schedule.

The Nairobi Commuter Rail service to Ruiru, Embakasi, Syokimau, and Kikuyu stations will also continue to operate normally, given that these destinations fall under the Nairobi metropolitan area.

“The two Madaraka Express trains that operated daily at 10:30am between Nairobi and Mombasa have been withdrawn forthwith,” said Kenya Railways managing director Phillip Mainga in a statement yesterday.

The restriction has also seen domestic air carriers including Kenya Airways and its subsidiary Jambojet, Fly 540, SafariLink, AirKenya, East African Safari Air Express (formerly Fly-SAX), Jetways among others suspend operations.

Jambojet ruled out the possibility of making refunds, encouraging affected passengers to consider rescheduling their flights to a later date at no extra charges.

The airline said the tickets cancelled would remain valid for 12 months starting April 7.

“Jambojet will temporarily suspend its operations for the period between April 7 and April 30,” said the airline in a statement yesterday.

“We, therefore, regret to inform all our customers and business partners that all the flights for the said period are cancelled with immediate effect.”

Safarilink chief executive Alex Avedi told the Business Daily that the airline’s operations in the domestic route remain grounded until June 1 in compliance with the state directive on restricted movement.

He, however, indicated that the carrier would continue offering charter flights.

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