County to set up special unit to crack on matatus flouting covid-19 safety regulations

An aerial view of the relocated Nakuru Bus Terminus in Bondeni Estate.

Nakuru County Government will set up a special unit that will collaborate with security personnel and health authorities in enforcing Covid-19 safety guidelines in public service vehicles.

Governor Lee Kinyanjui said though PSVs were required to reduce the number of passengers by almost half, some operators were carrying beyond the prescribed numbers and disregarding sanitization protocols.

            “Recurring complaints from passengers of non-adherence of public service vehicles to COVID-19 restrictions is legitimate and requires immediate redress. We shall commence immediate crackdown of all offenders for endangering their own lives and that of passengers,” said the County boss in a statement issued by his Communications Unit.

From the beginning, the PSVs were also instructed to provide water and soap for passengers or sanitizers to clean their hands before boarding the vehicle. The conductors were also expected to ensure only those donning masks were allowed into their vehicles. At first it worked quite well but, as is typical of Kenyans, some are now ignoring the guidelines, putting the passengers and themselves at grave risk.

The Governor lamented that after a commendable campaign to curb the spread of Covid-19, it was a pity that complacency and reluctance to strictly observe the safety measures outlined by health experts in the transport sector were eroding the gains that had been made.

            “No one is above the law and therefore we must all act together and in good faith in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still a lot of work to do as the number of infections continues to increase day after day,” observed Kinyanjui

A spot check by Kenya News Agency at various bus termini established that there was a lot of defiance of safety protocols with many matatu crew still carrying extra passengers.

Over time, commuters have also stopped protesting due to the insults they have had to endure from matatu crew, thereby exposing everyone to the virus.

Most operators also remained stuck to their old way of cash based transactions as a means of paying fares.

Most conductors insist that passengers pay in cash claiming that verifying electronic payments was slow and cumbersome while dealing with commuters, especially during rush hours.

Rather than use the public transport, some Kenyans have opted to either walk, use online cabs or other private means, leading to a spike in the number of private vehicles on the roads.