TRAVEL RESUMPTION

Cross county bus operators 'ready to hit the road' after Uhuru lifts ban

Awaiting government certification

In Summary

•Cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa County and Mandera County ends today 4:00 a.m.

•Local air travel resumes effective next Wednesday (July 15).

Passengers boarding a Mash bus. Photo/File
Passengers boarding a Mash bus. Photo/File

Most long-distance passenger transport firms plan to resume operations this week following the lifting of cessation movement by President Uhuru Kenyatta in Nairobi, inquiries show.

The cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa and Mandera Counties has been in place since April 6, locking out passenger service vehicles from business.

 

“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,” President Uhuru warned.

Local air travel resumes effective next Wednesday (July 15), in strict conformity with all applicable guidelines and protocols from both the ministry of health and civil aviation authorities, Uhuru said.

International air travel into and out of Kenya resumes on August 1.

PSV operators who spoke to the Star yesterday indicated they would resume movement between Thursday and Friday this week, subject to certification by the government.

Easy Coach which serves the vast of Western Kenya, Nyanza and Rift Valley region with a fleet of about 100 buses expects to resume operations by Friday, managing director Azym Dossa told the Star yesterday.

“It will take us at least two to three days to get ready,” Dossa said.

The company has been making a loss of Sh40 million a month according to management.

 
 

“Re-opening comes as a relief but it will take time before we make profitable gains,” he said, noting buses will only be operating on a 50 per cent capacity.

Mash East Africa, which operates buses between Mombasa-Nairobi and the East Africa region, is ready to take on the road on Thursday, general manager Lennox Shalo told the Star on phone.

“We were planning to even begin tomorrow (today). We are expecting inspectors from government and once we are certified, we will commence,” Shalo said adding that their fleet is ready.”

Social distancing measures will however see it carry 24 passengers instead of 44.

The company has at least 60 buses operating in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Opening up of inter-county movement comes as good news for the entire public transport sector where according to the Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai, over 60,000 matatus and buses operate on a normal day, each raking in an average Sh15,000.

Jambojet will resume operations on July 15, management said.

The carrier plans to fly locally to Diani, Mombasa,Kisumu, Malindi and Eldoret from its Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport hub before going into its regional routes of Entebbe and Kigali.

“We want to assure our customers that we will follow the safety guidelines put in place to offer a safe and pleasant flying experience," Jambojet acting Managing Director, Karanja Ndegwa said.

Kenya Airways also plans to commence scheduled domestic flights from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret, before going international after the August 1 opening of the country’s airspace to passenger flights.

“We start with domestic and regional flights at a reduced frequency and then introduce some long haul at reduced frequency and change based on demand,” CEO Allan Kilavuka had said earlier.

Passengers seeking services of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) will however have to wait longer.

“We are waiting for directives. At the moment there are none,” Kenya Railways managing director Phillip Mainga told the star.

The SGR passenger service is however likely to resume with one train owing to the extension of the nation-wide curfew of between 9pm and 4am by a further 30 days, as afternoon trains reach both Mombasa and Nairobi slightly after 8pm.