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Allow us to work till 8pm, matatu operators ask govt

Matatu owners have requested the government to allow them to ferry passengers until 8pm instead of the 7pm curfew deadline that has been imposed by the government saying they will stop burdening citizens by hiking fares.

Matatu Operators Association chairman Jamal Ibrahim said they had complied with the government’s directive on the curfew despite encountering huge losses since coronavirus was confirmed.

“To stop the hiking of the fare and flouting the curfew directive by the government l urge the authorities to give dispensation to matatu crew to at least finish duty by 8pm. We support restricting the number of passengers we should carry to facilitate social distancing to curb (the) spread of the coronavirus,” said Mr Ibrahim.

He also urged the government to strongly support the matatu sector across the country to go cashless in transacting business.

“The transport sector is vital in the development of our country and therefore we need to create synergy in fighting coronavirus pandemic together,” he added.

As part of steps to prevent the spread of the deadly virus, Kenya enforced an indefinite 7pm to 5am curfew starting Friday.

The first day was chaotic as some commuters were stranded at bus stops during the rush hour after work, with public transporters adhering to the directive.

Police in various locations were also pictured and recorded caning people who defied the curfew, raising the issue of brutality.

CS Kagwe did not speak in detail about the curfew but noted, “If we want to save Kenyans and avoid the experiences in other countries, we must social-distance and stay at home when told to.”

He also said, “If employers can stagger the working hours, we can reduce congestion in the city. Those queuing for public transport should observe social distancing.

Friday evening saw thousands of Nairobi residents forced to stand in long ques as there were only a few public service vehicles available, forcing many to camp outside buildings as they waited for means of transport.

Many who tried to rush home to beat the nationwide 7pm – 5am deadline were not surprised after the few matatus that were available seized the opportunity to cash in by hiking the fare even as others flouted the new directive restricting the number of passengers they should carry to facilitate social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.