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Matatu owners, crews count losses as Covid-19 restrictions persist

Johnte, a matatu driver with Umoinner Sacco feels the pinch in the harshest of ways of the changes in the transport sector due to the curfew imposed by the government to control the spread of Covid-19.

He is a matatu driver but with no matatu to work with on a daily basis. He is, therefore, left to make rounds in what is termed as a squad.

This is when a matatu driver arrives at Donholm roundabout and alights to let another one complete the journey into and out of Umoja before handing over the vehicle back to the main driver.

Before the curfew, he would make these trips on a daily basis and go home with between Sh1,500 to Sh2,000.

Now with curfew, he barely manages Sh200 a day.

“Siku hizi ni kusurvive tu, kazi iko mbaya but lazima tupate kitu niipeleke home kwa familia,” narrates Johnte who is married to a jobless wife and two daughters.

“I used to go home with enough cash to keep my family going from these small trips or at least I would get a matatu to drive the whole day mostly on weekends.”

With the curfew, it has brought a decrease in the wages earned by matatu crews as well as the owners.

Previous a matatu would consume fuel worth around Sh6,000 full tank enough for a whole day’s trip. Nowadays, most consume around Sh3,000 worth of fuel due to a decrease in the number of trips.

A driver would take home Sh1,500shs a day now struggles to earn Sh1,000 while a conductor takes home Sh600 down from Sh1,000.

The rush to get home begins as early as 2pm and very few matatus go back to town after 5pm.

A matatu owner who would receive between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000 a day now has to make dow with between Sh3,000 and Sh4000.