Give us water, free sanitisers desperate matatu operators tell govt

Job Odhiambo sanitizing customers outside Avenida Lounge Restaurant along Moi Avenue on March 16, 2020/ MERCY MUMO

The government has been urged to avail clean water as well as free certified sanitisers to public transport facilities as part of measures to curb the deadly coronavirus, which has seen seven cases confirmed in the country so far.

Speaking in Nairobi on Thursday, the Federation of Public Transport Sector (FTPS) led by the State Department of Transport Permanent Secretary Charles Hinga also urged the government to avail certified points where vehicles can be taken for routine disinfection and sanitization.

“We need a lot of clean water in Matatu and bus terminals so that commuters and the matatu crew can wash their hands. We also need clean water in informal settlements where majority of workers in the public transport sector reside. Water provision is a government responsibility, not the private sector,” said the PS.

The PS further appealed to the government to provide free sanitisers to matatu operators at the termini in order to stop rogue traders who had taken advantage of the influx of uncertified hand sanitizers to extort Kenyans.

Public Health Officers

The Federation also wants the government to station Public Health Officers along major roads and strategic points such as booking offices, bus termini, depots and garages, among others, so as to screen temperatures for matatu operators and commuters as well as provide essential training.

What is more, the matatu stakeholders also want the government to facilitate a cashless fare collection system in order to do away with cash transaction in the public sector.

The PS divulged that discussions were underway with Safaricom’s M-Pesa aimed at providing a quick mobile fare transaction system so as to avoid physical contact with cash, which pass through many hands thus fuelling the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus outbreak.

FTPS chair Edwins Mukabanah cautioned matatu operators against hiking fares at this time when majority of commuters are travelling upcountry for fear of the pandemic spread in cities and towns.

He urged matatu crews to observe high basic hygiene levels such as washing their hands using soap and water constantly as well as maintaining a distance of one meter to keep themselves safe.

Regarding the economy, the matatu stakeholders have urged the government to set up an economic stimulus, which will cushion investors in the matatu sector against hardships.


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