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Elections: Fares double as city residents go upcountry to vote

PSV companies in Nairobi are making a killing as city residents registered to vote in upcountry polling stations travel to cast their ballot.

A spot check at the Country Bus terminus, where most buses ply the western routes, found a stage teeming with travellers, mostly women and children.

Their reasons for the travel varied, with most saying they were registered as voters in polling stations upcountry. Others said they were taking their children home after schools closed, while a few were leaving, fearing violence might break out after the elections

FARES DOUBLED

Mr Job Mose, a ticketing official for Nyamira Express, which goes to Nyamira, Oyugis and Kendu Bay, said the fares had more than doubled since the exodus started and business was at its peak for most companies.

“On a normal day, passengers would pay Sh600 to these destinations but this has since changed as the number of those travelling has more than doubled, driving up the fare to between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500,” said Mr Mose.

He added that the buses were making at least two trips from the normal one they used to do in a day and the number of buses had also been increased to cope with the surge in numbers.

“There are many people travelling home, either because of fear of violence or going to vote, as they are registered there,” he said.

Mr Antony Ngugi, a bus driver for Modern Coast Bus Services, said since last Friday, there had been an upsurge in the number of passengers travelling to all regions in the country.

FEAR OF UNREST

He said they were not sure why the upsurge but suspected fear of unrest or the passengers were travelling to vote in their rural homes.

Mr Ngugi said Modern Coast had increased its fares, and commuters to regions around Kisumu were paying between Sh1,200 and Sh1,500, up from the Sh800.

Ms Grace Nyabuto, a ticketing official for Otange Express, which goes to Homa Bay, said most passengers started travelling last week on Wednesday with the peak being on Friday.

She said women formed the majority of travellers. She added that the firm increased fares from the normal Sh600 to between Sh1,300 and Sh1,500.

“Those travelling say they are going to vote, a few cite fear of violence while others say they are taking their families home then coming back to vote,” she said.

Ms Mercy Mwendwa, who was travelling to Kisii with her two children, said she was registered to vote at Nyakiore polling station in the county.

“I live in Ngong but right now I am heading home to vote and not for fear of violence. My husband has already left. We registered for voting in Kisii,” she said.

COME BACK

Another traveller, Mr Henry Oduol, who was heading to Gem in Siaya, said he was only going to vote then come back to Nairobi. He said he was registered as a voter in the region and did not get time to change his voting station. He ruled out fear of violence as his reason for travelling.

Ms Eunice Okang’ and Ms Nancy Onyango, who were travelling to Ndhiwa in Homa Bay, also said they would return to Nairobi as soon as they vote.

“We are not going home because of fear of chaos,” said Ms Okang’, who lives and works in Embakasi.

Mr Gordon Otieno, a registered voter in Baba Dogo, said some of those travelling had transferred from city polling stations to upcountry ones after the 2007-2008 post-election violence.

“Others have said that they will first vote before heading home,” he said.

Mr Steve Odongo and Mr Anthony Adala, who work for Climax, said they had been asking passengers for their registration details and were only allowing those who were not registered in the city to board their vehicles.

“But from Friday, there has been a lot of traffic that has made it a bit difficult to confirm all the details,” said Mr Odongo.