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More passengers in matatus as Transport Ministry issues new guidelines

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia has issued new guidelines for Public Service Vehicles (PSV) by relaxing Covid-19 protocols put in place in March.

In the new guidelines issued on Wednesday, the government will now allow PSVs to increase the number of passengers onboard.

REDUCED CAPACITY

The new guidelines will see 14-seater matatus capacity increase their capacity to 10 passengers, as opposed to eight, including driver and crew while the 33-seater matatus allowed a sitting capacity of 18, including the driver and crew.

The 51-seater matatus will be allowed a sitting capacity of 30, including the driver and crew, while in the case of boda bodas, only one pillion passenger will be allowed.

The five-seater cars and cabs will be allowed to carry three passengers while a seven-seater car will be allowed to carry five passengers at a time.

In March, when Covid-19 struck, the government issued directives compelling the matatu sector to drastically reduce the number of passengers to avoid the potential spread of the virus in congested matatus.

To adhere to the social distancing directive, 14-seater matatus were directed to carry eight passengers, those with a 25-seater capacity were allowed to carry a maximum of 15 passengers.

GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES

PSVs with a capacity of more than 30 passengers were directed to maintain a capacity of 60 per cent per trip.

The matatus were to ensure passengers wash their hands and are sanitised before boarding any vehicle.

They were also to ensure the PSVs are fumigated after every trip.

Despite the protocols, strict adherence to the Health ministry guidelines hasn’t been possible due to structural challenges.

Since the directives were put in place, many commuters have had to dig deep into their pockets to meet hiked prices.

In the Protocol for Public Road Transport Operations announced on Wednesday, matatus are required to establish measures to enforce social distancing, contact tracing and to manage suspected cases of Covid-19.

“We’ve put in place an inspection and certification process of ensuring PSV operators observe the new protocol and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health,” Macharia said.

PASSENGER MANIFEST

Last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Ministries of Transport and Health to issue guidelines on the resumption of inter county travel.

“There shall be no movement of public transport vehicles into and out of the areas previously under cessation of movement restrictions, without the public transport providers being compliant with all protocols developed by Ministry of Health,” said President Kenyatta.

Only matatus that have conformed with the government’s protocols on Covid-19 will be allowed to travel into and out of Nairobi and other counties.

With regards to long distance travellers, bus companies will now have to keep passenger manifests for a minimum period of one month before destroying them.

“The bus companies will provide without undue delay and without prejudice the full names, nationality, passport or ID Number, telephone number allocated seat and usual residence to the relevant public health authorities upon request for contact tracing purposes,” the guidelines read.