TAXATION

Remove fuel levy to ease burden on commuters, Matatu owners tell State

Says number of passengers per trip cut by more than half forcing operators to hike fares.

In Summary

• Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai says it is unfair for Kenyans to bear the extra cost through increased fares as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

• Kimutai said though the matatu sector has complied with government’s directive to reduce the number of passengers per trip, the losses being encountered are unbearable.

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

Matatu owners have asked the government to remove the fuel levy to ease the burden of hiked fares on commuters.

Through the Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai, the owners said it is unfair for Kenyans to bear the extra cost through increased fares as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Kimutai said though the matatu sector has complied with the government’s directive to reduce the number of passengers per trip stating that the losses being encountered are unbearable.

 
 

Kimutai told the Star as a result to try cushion the losses, the matatu crew have been left with no option but to turn the heat on commuters through hiked fares.

Last week the government issued directives compelling the matatu sector to drastically reduce the number of passengers to avoid the potential spread of the disease through congested matatus.

To adhere to the social distancing directive, the 14-seater matatus were directed to carry eight passengers, those with a 25-seater capacity to reduce to 15 passengers while those above a 30-seater capacity were directed to maintain a capacity of 60 per cent per trip.

The matatus are also to ensure passengers wash their hands and are sanitized before boarding any vehicle.

They are also to ensure the PSVs are fumigated after every trip.

Since Monday this week when the directives were effected, many passengers were left stranded at bus stops, a situation that has seen the majority part with extra cash to board.

For instance within Nairobi, a route that cost Sh50 has been doubled to Sh100 while some that cost Sh80 have been hiked to Sh120.

 
 

After public outcry, President Uhuru Kenyatta in his address to the nation on Wednesday said his government had put targeted interventions in place to try cushion those affected.

Among the interventions was a two per cent reduction of the Value Added Tax –VAT from the current 16 per cent to 14 per cent.

But this Kimutai said was nothing compared to the losses already incurred.

“Where is that applicable in public transport? Is it on fuel or what? Two shillings per litre would make an average of Sh100, distribute to 200 passengers and you wouldn’t even have the denomination,” he said.

“The best approach to this situation would have been to remove fuel levy and any other tax on fuel”.


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