Passenger Service Vehicle stakeholders have opposed the proposal by the Ministry of Transport to regulate fares, saying it will kill the sector.
The National Organising Secretary of the Federation of Public Transport, Mr Dickson Mbugua, Matatu Owners Association Chairman Simon Kimutai and Matatu Transport Vehicle Association Secretary-General Richard Kanoru said the sector should be left to operate in line with supply and demand laws.
"The exchange control and regulation laws, which capped commodity prices, were repealed in the 1990s through Parliament, giving way to soko huru (fee market), which we have today. So, if the ministry is moving a bill to regulate fares, I challenge them to include those of air transport, taxi services and cargo transport, including the Standard Gauge Railway," Mr Mbugua said.
The three were responding separately to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia's revelation that the ministry has drafted an amendment to the Traffic Act and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) Act seeking to control PSV fares across the country to protect the public from exploitation.
He said market forces apply in the PSV sector, with fares being high during peak times and low during the off-peak times.
Mr Kimutai said the idea was not informed by a clear understanding of the sector, more so since their sub-sector is the only one targeted.
"I don't understand how the government wants to control transport, which is privately run, without consultation. The CS thinks there is exploitation, but he will retreat once he realises that it is already a loss-making venture," he said, adding that matatu owners are also hard hit by high cost of living.
Meanwhile, Mr Kinoru said that the ministry's proposal is just a ploy to get rid of matatus and replace them with bus rapid transit system.
"Though we greatly abhor the tendency by some crews to hike fares unnecessarily, the government should take a participatory approach to avoid creating unnecessary tension in the sector," he said.