Kenya: Matatu Operators Set to Begin Nationwide Strike on Tuesday

Commuters walk past matatus on the road within the city centre (file photo).
26 October 2020

Kenyans commuters could from Tuesday be stranded if the threat by the Association of Matatu Operators to withdraw their services is executed.

Speaking in Nairobi, the association's chairperson Jamal Ibrahim said public transport operators countrywide will go on strike to protest the continued move to limit the capacity of public service vehicles (PSVs) due to the stringent Covid-19 protocols.

Mr Ibrahim cited the strict passenger limit restrictions as punitive, claiming that the government had neglected the matatu industry.

"On Tuesday, across the country, all matatus must go on strike. I would like to tell our leaders, Hon Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta, they have neglected our matatu industry," he said.

he added: "When they visit places, they always talk about boda boda, they talk about bars and churches but they have forgotten the Matatu Industry. The reason we are striking on Tuesday is because of capacity. Since Covid-19 hit eight months ago, they have not addressed the matatu industry urging for the resumption of full capacity."

He urged the government to relax Covid-19 restrictions in the matatu sector just like it had done to other industries as the operators were suffering reduced revenue.

"Earlier, all local flights resumed normal seat capacity, churches have resumed operation, political rallies are back to normal as well as schools. So why have we been forgotten?" he lamented.

Mr Ibrahim said the industry had written enough letters with no response from the relevant authority.

In March this year, as part of efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, the government directed 14-seater matatus to carry a maximum of eight passengers, 25-seaters to carry 15, buses whose sitting capacity is 30 and above to have 60 per cent sitting capacity.

Matatu operators within the city were encouraged to sensitise their clients on the need for social distancing as one of the proven measures to curb the spread of the deadly virus.

All passengers were also supposed to be sanitised while boarding the vehicles and matatus to be washed daily to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

The government also ordered seats to be disinfected in the morning and at night an order most PSVs have defied.

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