The Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works has announced that Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) will resume to carrying full capacity passengers as from Monday, August 9.
Briefing the press at the Ministry’s Headquarters after holding a meeting with road transport operators’ stakeholders on Covid-19, the Transport Chief Administrative Secretary Chris Obure said the ministry will sign a memorandum of understanding with operators that will ensure compliance of the protocols as they resume the full carrying capacity.
“We are in agreement that the Federation and Associations will immediately introduce self-regulation that will allow full capacity, and that any Sacco found violating the protocol will have its license revoked,” said Obure.
He said the ministry recognizes the loss that the operators are incurring in the current dispensation during this time of Covid-19 pandemic and the rising cases of the diseases, attributing the surge to non-compliant and non-enforcement of the commitment measures.
The CAS said in an attempt to strike the balance between maintaining a vibrant transport economy and to secure the safety of Kenyans, the ministry and the transport sector stakeholders have agreed on the need to have a self-regulating mechanism to ensure that operators comply with the protocols.
Obure said the meeting addressed concerns of laxity in implementing the existing containment measures, the protection of passengers’ against the spread of the rapidly mutating variants of the Covid-19 and its adverse effects on the PSV transport sector which has impacted negatively on the continued viability of the investments sector.
He said the transport industry reviewed the existing protocols in March this year and introduced new measures that were to allow for full capacity, he however, noted that the measures have not been implemented due to the high rate of infection.
The measures demand that all passengers should properly wear facemasks, sanitize before boarding the vehicles, be screened for high temperatures using contact free thermometer, and those whose temperatures are above 37.5 degrees Celsius or have signs of Covid-19 including cough and shortness of breath should not be allowed to board.
Other measures require that the PSV crew use 3ply surgical face masks to avoid contracting the disease and spreading it due to their exposure from the huge customers they interact with daily.
“The crew are also required to undergo covid test frequently to ensure their temperature is below 37.5 degrees Celsius as well as ensure their vehicles are disinfected after every trip,” said Obure.
The CAS also announced that the new guidelines will prohibit hawking, preaching, begging and unnecessary stop overs while on transit to avoid unnecessary contact with local population and other travellers.
He at the same time said that PSV operators and association will be required to introduce internal hotline communication numbers to be displayed prominently for use by commuters and road users in case of any incidents and to report traffic law violations.
“We also want PSV Saccos and companies to encourage use of cashless payment system that will support contact tracing to enable medical officials track passengers in the event a Covid-19 case is established,” he said.
PSVs Saccos and companies operating along various routes have also been called upon to establish joint traffic marshals and compliance teams to monitor if the rules are being followed.
Speaking at the briefing, the Chairman Association of Bus Operators and Kenya Chairman Federation of Public, Transport Sector Association Edwin Mukabanah appealed to the ministry of health to include the transport sector as frontlines in the Covid-19 vaccination to enable the industry return back to normalcy.
Mukabana said the transport sector will try to lower bus fares, even though the sector has been hard hit by the pandemic.
“There has been a big impact on the sector as the country has lost revenue amounting to Ksh31 billion,” he said and added that the industry has been suffering but it will help to resuscitate the people by creating employment to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic.
The meeting was attended by the Principal Secretary, State Department for Transport Solomon Kitungu, Dickson Mbugua, Chairman Matatu Owners Association and Federation Secretary, Michael Kariuki Chairman Mt. Kenya Matatu Owners Association among others.
By Bernadette Khaduli