The matatu sector now wants commuters to start paying fares using mobile money transfer service, instead of hard cash, to avoid transmission of the deadly Covid-19.
Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai told the Star on Saturday that they don’t want the sector to be the weak link in the war on coronavirus. Exchange of dirty cash could increase the risk of infection, hence their appeal.
“The money has the largest circulation and spreads to thousands of people. We must find the best way not to exchange cash. Mobile money transfer could be a better option,” he said.
The government announced the country’s first case of the virus on Friday. The Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization have advised people to regularly wash their hands with soap or use sanitisers, including after handling money.
Not all Matatu Saccos have implemented the use of sanitisers at respective bus stops as advised by the government on Friday. They say supermarkets across the city have run out of stock. Some operators around the Central business district said they were waiting for the government to intervene.
But Kimutai appealed to sanitiser manufacturers to lower prices so as many people as possible can afford the products. He said this is not the time to focus on maximising profits.
Public transport promotes close interactions, hence the need for protective measures. According to Transport CS James Macharia, 90 per cent of Kenyans rely on PSVs.
“That is why we are giving public transport special focus and attention. A problem affecting the transport sector will have a great impact on all other sectors,” he said.
The government had also ordered all matatus to be washed daily as part of prevention measures against the virus. The seats must be disinfected in the morning and at night. Drivers and conductors are also to be trained in prevention measures.