How Coronavirus has affected the Public transport sector since the outbreak

Travel to and throughout Kenya has rapidly dropped in recent days, driven by concerns about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Kenya Airways has been suspending flights to countries which have been hard hit with COVID-19, the latest being Italy with reported 300 deaths within 24 hours, surpassing that of China.

Most of Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) in the country have not complied with the government’s directive for acquiring alcoholic-based hand sanitizers to help fight the virus. But even as the virus continues to replicate, Kenyans have been asked to stay at home and if possible work from home. This has had an impact on the public transport sector, more so after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered an immediate closure of all schools.

Metropol TV, however, sought to speak with Simon Kimutai, the Chairman of Matatu Owners Association who delved deeper into how the sector has been affected since Kenya reported the first case of COVID-19 on March 13

What is the impact of the announcement cases and how it has affected the transport industry?

There was a meeting last week with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport at the Cabinet Secretaries office trying to understand what was needed of the transport industry in this trying times of coronavirus fears. The sector is an area of interaction and 90 percent of people in Nairobi use public transport.

The problem is that people are scared, and a significant education around the virus has not been done as needed. The best thing would go into the preventive mechanism.

How has the outbreak impacted the revenue of Matatu sector?

Revenues have dwindled by close to 25 percent and we expect it to go down close to 50 percent in coming days. This is because Matatus rely mostly on people who go to work on a daily basis. This has reduced drastically due to the outbreak of coronavirus. Matatu business is likely to go down by nearly 50 percent.

How prepared are Public Service Vehicles to help combat this virus?

What the Public Service vehicles want is the help on how the sector can get hand sanitizers. The government should put efforts to provide water and soap in areas where people board vehicles.

Are the PSVs committed to knowing whether passengers are safe?

Yes. What we have done is to ensure that everyone plays his part by partnering with the government. We urge passengers to buy personal sanitizers and avoid touching surfaces. It will be important if the government took over the public toilets and put sanitizers everywhere, it’s a choice and the government must take the initiative.

Will PSVs adapts to cashless transactions and will it be enforced?.

Conductors should be aware that they could be transferring the virus by handling cash. And in this regard, the best option would be to take mobile money platforms like M-Pesa and Airtel Money alternatives.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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