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Matatus allowed full capacity passengers

The government has allowed matatus to carry passengers at full capacity from August 9, 2021.

Transport Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Chris Obure, at a press conference held at Transcom House in Nairobi, said the industry had agreed to self-regulate in Covid-19 compliance.

The CAS said the ministry and the matatu industry had agreed to implement strict measures that are already in place, which is necessary, among other things, to build confidence that they can allow full capacity while at the same time ensuring continued protection of the passengers against the spread of the rapidly mutating variants of Covid-19.

“To mitigate the challenges, jointly with the industry, we reviewed the existing protocols in March this year as directed by President Uhuru Kenyatta during the 4th Presidential address on Coronavirus pandemic on March 12, 2021. This review introduced new measures that were to allow for full capacity but we have not been able to implement the revised protocol because the infection rates have remained high,” he said.

Some of the measures agreed are that the matatus will be cleaned and disinfected and all passenger’s hands to be sanitized before boarding.

All passengers will be instructed to wear masks properly and that all Saccos should have a thermos gun to check passengers’ temperature before entry to the vehicle.

“Where a passenger’s body temperature will be found to be 37.5°C or higher, checks will be repeated at least once for confirmation purposes,” said Mr Edwin Mukabanah, Chairman, Association of Bus Operators – Kenya and Chairman Federation of Public, Transport Sector Association.

The matatu sector has been adversely hit by Covid-19 protocols where all movement public transport activity is prohibited after 10pm until 4am, a condition that has hurt long-distance operators that have rescheduled operations to conform.

On Friday, July 30, Health ministry Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe ordered matatu operators not to allow onboard passengers without face masks.

He raised the alarm over the surging cases of Covid-19 in the country saying the directive was meant to curb the spread of the virus in public areas.

The public transport sector has been using guidelines provided by the President last year and revised by CS Macharia.

The rules require passengers to wear face masks, sit a metre apart and sanitise before boarding matatus.

Matatu owners are to ensure the PSVs are fumigated after every trip.

Currently, a 14-seater matatu carries 10 passengers, up from eight while a 33-seater bus is allowed 18 passengers including the driver and crew.

While releasing the PSV protocols last year, Macharia said the Covid-19 pandemic had changed the normal way of life.

“All travel shall be in strict conformity with all protocols from the Ministry of Health and any additional requirements applicable to the different modes of transport,” Macharia said.