PSVs resume carrying passengers at full capacity
As Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) resume carrying full capacity on Monday, Kenyans are divided on the decision by the government, some saying the move is a ticking time bomb with the country recording a surge in the number of new infections.
A spot-check by Citizen TV revealed that some of the operators and passengers are not adhering to the COVID-19 protocols in place, this raising more concerns on how operators will adhere to them when full capacity resumes.
At the Railways Bus Stop, it is all about survival for the fittest as only the strong can push their way to board the moving matatus whose crew and passengers seem to have thrown caution to the wind.
Wearing of masks seems to have faded away with time as some passengers wear them on their chin; hand washing points, sanitizers and thermo guns are nowhere in sight. The same is replicated in major bus stops around the Central Business District, operators and passengers endangering their lives by failing to adhere to the coronavirus containment measures.
This happening as matatus will now be allowed to carry full capacity as it was before the COVID-19 pandemic, the directive attracting mixed opinions as Nairobi continues to bear the highest caseload of the new infections.
Samuel Kiprop, a Nairobi resident, said, “Naonelea si vyema kwa sababu idadi inaendelea kuongezeka ya corona na mimi kama mwananchi nitaumia juu sina pesa ya kujitibu.”
“Naona imesaidia sana sana abiria kama mimi ambao hutembea sana kuenda kutafuta vitu, kwa sababu sasa ulikuwa unapata ile wakati wanabeba less capacity walikuwa wanatuumiza sana,” stated Alphonce Otieno, another resident.
However, some operators around Tea Room area are up to the task ahead of the resumption of full capacity services. Water points remain operational, the only challenge is having to change their insurance in the course of the week to fit the new sitting capacity.
Moses Kigunda, Raha Express operator, said, “Kama kuna yule atakubali kukaa na mwengine na kulipa mia saba ni sawa…lakini kama kuna yule hataki kukaa karibu na mwengine, kuna gari ingine ambayo itakuwa kando kwa wale wanajiskia hawataki kutangamana na watu na wako na uwezo wa kulipa elfu moja.”
“Nauli hakuna vile itakuwa chini kwa sababu diesel iko juu, kusema tubebe capacity na diesel bado iko juu, owners wa magari watakuwa wanaumia,” said Migwi Njau, stage manager, Climax Coaches.
In Kitale and Mombasa, bus operators say full resumption is a relief but it will take some time for them to be fully back as some had converted their buses for courier services and they have to refit seats and make repairs before they embark on offering passenger services.
Steven Otieno, operator, Vanga Buses, said: “Upande wa usafiri wa usiku tunaomba tufunguliwe pia kwa sababu SGR inaenda usiku na haijasimamishwa, so sisi tunashangaa kwa nini tunakanyagiwa hatuwezi kuenda usiku.”
A section of leaders have lauded the government’s move and now want the President to open the economy and institute more social protection programs to cushion the poor.
“Sisi tumepeana amri kwa wabunge wetu waskume hii mambo ya kufungua nchi na vile vile mambo ya chanjo,” said ODM leader Raila Odinga.
Mvita MP Abdulswamad Nassir, on his part, said: “Wiki hii tumeongea na party leader, kuna miswada mengine tutapeleka pia, the country needs to open up, we need to open up the economy of Kenya, watu wameumia ya kuchoka.”
The government has warned that even with the resumption of full capacity for PSVs, those who will violate the protocols including thermal screening and disinfecting their vehicles, will have their licenses revoked.