'REDUCE FUEL PRICE, WE REDUCE FARE'

Matatu owners urge state to reduce fuel tax

Operators' lobby boss says government failed to provide a remedy for businesses.

In Summary

• On Monday, commuters, especially within Nairobi, were forced to dig deeper in their pockets and pay almost double after the PSVs increased their charges.

• Commuters from Umoja paid Sh150 from the usual Sh80; Utawala matatus charged Sh200 from the normal Sh100; South B Sh50 from Sh30, Rongai Sh200 from Sh80.

Matatus along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi.
SLOW BUSINESS: Matatus along Tom Mboya Street in Nairobi.
Image: EZEKIEL AMING'A

 

Matatu owners have asked the government to provide fuel subsidies so that they can stop passing on the cost to commuters over coronavirus control measures. 

Matatu Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai told the Star on Tuesday that with the coronavirus and orders from the government, the cost of doing business was high. 

“The mistake the government did was fail to provide a remedy when they ordered we carry fewer passengers. At least they should come in and reduce or remove fuel taxes,” Kimutai said.

Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe on Friday announced that passenger service vehicles should carry fewer passengers in the fight against coronavirus.

The 14-seater matatus were ordered to carry eight passengers, 25-seater buses to carry 15 passengers and those with a capacity of 30 seats above to maintain 60 per cent occupancy.

On Monday, commuters, especially within Nairobi, were forced to dig deeper into their pockets and pay almost double after the PSVs increased their charges.

Commuters from Umoja paid Sh150 from the usual Sh80; Utawala matatus charged Sh200 from the normal Sh100; South B Sh50 from Sh30, Rongai Sh200 from Sh80.

Kimutai said operators are also overwhelmed as they have to purchase their own sanitisers, towels and wash the vehicles after every trip.

“Telling us to carry half the required number of passengers, is a hit in the face. As much as we understand the seriousness of the situation, it was automatic the fare would go up,” he said.

Kimutai said they had no option but to bear the cost to comply with the government’s directive. 

“It is not only the commuters who are at risk in contracting the virus, but also the matatu crew. So we had to comply,” he said. 

Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua urged the government to set aside a budget for public transport as the country battles with Covid-19.

“Transport is a service and the government should at least come up with measures to ensure that the commuters get the maximum services they require. We understand there is a crisis and everyone will suffer losses,” he said.

(edited by o. owino)