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No booming business for bus firms as Nairobians avoid travelling

Nairobians travelling upcountry for Christmas celebrations have to dig deeper into their pockets after bus companies doubled their fares to cash in on the rising demand.

At Nairobi’s Machakos country bus station, fares to Kisumu and Bondo rose from the normal Sh800 and Sh1,000 to Sh1,600 and Sh2,000 respectively.

George Okello, a ticketing agent, said business had been slow since August, therefore, they have to double the prices to recover the lost opportunities as demand rises.

“This opportunity only comes once; we’re trying to make something out of it, again remember that as buses travel upcountry, they return half empty until probably after the New Year celebrations,” Okello explained.

REDUCED PASSENGERS

He noted that the number of those travelling this year had gone down considerably as compared to previous ones.

“In the past travellers would spend nights here at the station waiting for buses, that is not the case this time,” he said.

Joseph Ouma, the ticketing manager of Safari Prestige Shuttle, noted business had been low this year due to polls.

“Many people are complaining they do not have money hence they are not travelling home for Christmas. I am struggling to fill our 35 vehicles unlike last year,” Ouma told Saturday Nation.

He said the sacco that plies the Kericho, Kisumu and Kakamega route had increased fare from the usual Sh1,000 to 1,500.

“The number of people travelling started reducing after the August 8 election and up to now the situation has not changed. I used to dispatch 12 vehicles everyday but after the polls, we have been doing only six,” Ouma said.

Simon Ngugi, a traveller at the Meru Shuttle, who was heading to Kinangop for Christmas, said he would use Sh30,000 this Christmas.

“I am going home with the family to relax and be with my people,” Ngugi said, noting vehicles were readily available.

FULLY BOOKED

At Easy Coach bus company, the buses were fully booked.

Lilian Aoko, who was travelling to Siaya, was crestfallen as the buses were booked until December 26.

“My aim was to be celebrate Christmas at home but I have missed a ticket. Last week I also found Kenya Airways flight to Kisumu fully booked. I have no choice, I will spend Christmas in Nairobi,” Aoko said.

Florah Otieno, who was lucky to get a ticket to Siaya, was with her four children Friday morning at the bus company office waiting to travel.

“I am happy that I managed to get a ticket for my family. It makes sense when one spends the festive season with the rest of people at home.

“I have planned to use only Sh20,000 because I have two children in high school, one who will need fees next month,” Otieno said.

At Transline bus offices, travellers scrambled for the few available spaces in some buses to reach home.

A message on the wall at the booking section informed travellers that, “Buses fully booked until 28”.

TAKEN ADVANTAGE

The management however had not taken advantage of the high number of customers.

It had maintained fare at Sh1,000 from Nairobi to Kisumu and Kisii.

Beatrice Kerubo told Saturday Nation that although the year had not been so good on her side, she had to go home and spend time with the parents.

“I don’t intend to spend much because I don’t have money. I just want to go home and spend Christmas in a different environment,” Kerubo said.