• Fourteen-seater matatus currently carry a maximum of eight passengers per trip to observe social distancing.
• The operators want the government to allow them to resume carrying the 14 passengers.
Mombasa matatu owners and crew have asked the government to scrap Covid-19 passenger capacity restrictions to prevent further losses to the industry.
Fourteen-seater matatus currently carry a maximum of eight passengers per trip to observe social distancing. The operators want the government to allow them to resume carrying the 14 passengers.
On Wednesday, industry players accused the government of double standards in imposing the Covid-19 protocols.
Matatu Owners Association said the government is selective in implementing the social distancing rules. Some sectors are not as strictly regulated, they said.
“Why is the train on the metre gauge railway allowed to carry passengers with no social distancing yet matatus are forced to keep a social distance? The law is a saw that should cut both ways,” MOA Coast coordinator Salim Mbarak said.
He added, “They should just allow Nissan matatus to carry 14 passengers.”
Mbarak said the train that ferries passengers between the Syokimau Railway Station and the Nairobi CBD on the metre gauge railway does not observe social distancing.
He said the matatu industry has been forced to operate at a loss because of the reduced passengers in order to meet the social distancing regulations.
They suffer losses because the fuel prices have gone up yet the income has declined, he said.
“The ferries no longer observe social distancing with commuters jam-packed. Why are we matatu people forced to observe the social distancing? Is corona only spread by matatus?” Mbarak asked.
He said politicians are campaigning openly in rallies where social distancing is non-existent and in most cases, people do not wear masks.
The matatu operators’ remarks are the latest in attacks on the government’s Covid-19 restrictions. Two weeks ago, clerics also raised concerns against the measures.
Pentecostal Churches on September 23 also criticised the government for forcing congregations to have a limited number of worshippers yet allow politicians to roam around the country in rallies without any limits.
They demanded that the church be allowed to hold worship sessions at full capacity.
On Wednesday, Mbarak congratulated the SGR management for strict adherence to the Covid-19 protocols, saying this should apply across the board.
Matatu driver Salim Adhe said the maximum eight passengers in matatus means reduced salaries for them.
“When we carry eight passengers per trip, we get about half the amount we used to get per trip. This means at the end of the day, we make only about half the amount we used to make,” Adhe said.
He said fuel prices have remained the same.
“We also have to deal with traffic police who do not care whether your earnings have reduced or not,” Adhe said.
Conductor Masha Karisa said the reduced earnings have created problems at home.
“Now there are frequent fights at home. Nobody says it but it is because of the reduced earnings,” Karisa said.