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Matatus maintain fares despite increased passenger capacity

Matatu operators have resumed ferrying passengers at full capacity in the wake of a government directive.

This even as passengers expecting subsidized fares owing to the increased sitting capacity were greeted with shock.

Emmanuel Atuya a passenger along Thika Road, in Nairobi, told Nairobi News the sitting capacity should not have been increased if the fares are not to be adjusted.

“We need our comfort as we are the ones who are paying,” he said.

Peter Kariuki, a matatu operator along the Kasarani route insisted he had no intention of lowering the commuting fee.

“There is no way the fare will be reduced because fuel price is still high. If the government reduces the fuel prices then we will do the same. Matatu owners will be hurting if they reduce the fare,” he said.

“We  also have to provide passengers with sanitizers and take buses for fumigation as a precaution because the crew has to remain cautious just in case they get exposed.”

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai while welcoming the government directive also blamed the high cost of fuel on the move to maintain the current fares.

He further argued matatu owners had lost a lot of income since the coronavirus pandemic began. Matatus have been allowed to carry up to 60% of the passenger capacity for the past 18 months.

“We will not reduce fare because fuel price went up the other day and with the kind of revenue we were getting at 40 percent, it was unsustainable and the industry was collapsing. Many people have left the sector, jobs lost, vehicles auctioned among other negative impacts. We will play our part in observing the new protocols,” said Mr. Kimutai.

Matatu owners have promised they will enforce other containment measures including wearing masks but a spot check by Nairobi News suggests otherwise.

Few if any of the public service vehicles (PSV) had hand sanitizers as is required by the new measures.

In addition, some matatus have been carrying more passengers than they are allowed to.

The relaxing of rules for PSVs have invited opinion on whether the government will consider relaxing rules on places of worship and dawn to dusk curfew.