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Heavy rains sink bus firms into huge losses

A section of the road destroyed on Suswa Narok-Mai Mahiu road destroyed by heavy rains at Suswa on April 24, 2018. photo | anthony omuya
A section of the road destroyed on Suswa Narok-Mai Mahiu road destroyed by heavy rains at Suswa on April 24, 2018. photo | anthony omuya 

Persistent heavy rains in most parts of the country have rendered many major roads impassable and slowed down long-distance commuter bus business, driving the operators into millions of shillings in losses.

The busy Mombasa-Nairobi Highway tops the list of major roads that have been cut off for hours, leaving motorists stranded and unable to complete their journeys.

Also cut off by floods, landslides and broken bridges is the Narok-Mai Mahiu Road that serves Bomet, Kericho, Kisii and Kisumu.

Modern Coast Bus Company communications manager Jervis Sunday said his firm’s daily revenue has dropped by Sh1.2 million since March with the fall in passenger traffic. The company has since responded with the halving of its active fleet.

“Our buses ply more than 60 routes across East Africa and we have reduced this by half to minimise costs,” said Mr Sunday.

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Floods have been causing havoc in various parts of the country and at least 1,800 people have been reported marooned in the coastal region.

Thousands of people were also reported to be in need of help in the Tana Delta after floods forced them to spend nights up the trees and on rooftops.

On Sunday, most roads in Turkana were rendered impassable following heavy rains that raised water levels at Kainuk Bridge, Kalemorock and Kawalase — blocking sections of major roads to Lodwar, Lokichogio and South Sudan.

On Tuesday, the Narok-Mai Mahiu Road was blocked after a section of it sunk along a volcanic fault line.

Police have so far advised motorists plying the route to use alternative roads and avoid trouble.

“It’s almost impossible to move with the Suswa and Sultan Hamud scenarios. If we have to move, it means we will arrive late, inconveniencing our passengers,” said Mr Sunday of Modern Coast.

Coast Bus owner and managing director Ajaz Mizra said his bus company has lost a substantial amount of daily earnings since the rains began.

He called upon the government to move with speed and repair damaged sections of major roads that have been washed away by floods.

“Some of these roads were poorly designed. It’s the reason they sink, especially during heavy rains,” said Mr Mizra.

EasyCoach managing director Azym Dossa, whose buses largely ply western Kenya routes, however sought to downplay the impact of the rains on the company’s operations.

“At EasyCoach, there is no bonus for driving quickly. We will continue urging our drivers to move with caution while monitoring the situation,” said Mr Dossa.

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