Public Service Vehicle operators in Kirinyaga County are exposing travelers to high risks of contracting the coronavirus by overloading and failing to sanitize the vehicles.
Over the weekend, the residents interviewed claimed that the operators were profit-minded and have no regard for the safety guidelines.
At the Embu Bus Park, a traveler on being identified, a pen is handed over to put down his or her particulars on a handbook.
The details the travelers are required to put down include the national identification card, and their mobile phone number.
One traveler who after boarding the matatu confided to me that what she had put on the book was just fake details which could not enable any one to trace her in the event she was a contact of a Covid-19 positive case.
“What is more worrying is the fact that the pen they give you to put down the details on the book is passed from one passenger to another without being sanitized,” the traveler said.
Since I was on board, I do not remember any water tank placed at the boarding bay for travelers to wash their hands before they entered or any sanitizer being availed by the linesmen.
Worse still, these matatus keep on picking more travelers along the route while no details of those boarding were taken, making the initial recording at the main bus terminus an exercise in futility.
Another traveler, James Kariuki who boarded a Kerugoya bound matatu in Nairobi recalled how the driver after Makuyu in Murang’a kept on dropping and picking other passengers along the way.
“You find that after Makuyu, the matatu gets overloaded and by the time you get to Kerugoya, you are regretting why you boarded the vehicle whose driver is only interested in making a killing in total disregard of our safety,” Kariuki said.
My own experience on the other hand established that matatus from Kutus to Kerugoya were overloading by carrying up to five passengers on a row of seats meant for two travelers in the wake of the coronavirus.
Conductors do not seem to care about the safety of the travelers nor do they worry over those who board without properly donning their masks.
“In fact, these conductors make us dance with death in their overcrowded vehicles by totally failing to observe the guidelines set out by the government,” Kariuki said.
When contacted, a senior local Public Health Officer admitted that the set safety guidelines were being flouted but added that the area multi-agency task force has been properly briefed on the matter.
The official promised to have action taken and also to have the operators compelled to sanitize their vehicles as passengers boarded.
The county has recorded over 24 covid-19 positive cases since Friday, with area residents expressing concerns over their safety.
By Irungu Mwangi