Members of the public plying different routes in Kirinyaga now want traffic police recalled back to the roads to check on public service vehicles (PSVs) who they claim are flouting the law.
Many of the travelers who spoke to the media said the PSVs operators are exposing them to high risks of contracting the Coronavirus by overloading and failing to sanitize the vehicles.
“We hear there are new strains of the coronavirus and it would be prudent for our operators to take caution and act appropriately,” said James Kinyua who plies between Embu and Kerugoya daily.
Kinyua said the operators were profit-minded and have no regard for the safety of their passengers and the health guidelines.
At Kerugoya KUKENA Matatu terminus, the guidelines of capturing the names of those boarding the Matatu has long ceased to be observed.
In such details, the travelers are required to put down the national identification card, and the mobile phone numbers.
“The removal of the traffic police from our roads have left the operators with no control at all and they are carrying their business like the Covid-19 is nonexistent in our country,” said Mary Wambui, a trader at the terminus.
Wambui said the problem is worsened by the overloading being witnessed especially with KUKUNA and Karombu Matatu Saccos who now claim, it is time to regain what they lost in the past.
“The Saccos have even stopped the provision of the water tanks where passengers would clean their hands as they board or get off from the vehicles, thus exposing their travelers to the risk of getting the Covid-19,” Wambui said.
She said the government erred in getting the traffic police off the road which has now led to matatu madness being experienced along different routes in Kirinyaga county.
Another traveler, James Gacanja, who boarded the Kerugoya bound Matatu in Nairobi recalled how the driver after reaching Makuyu in Murang’a County, kept on dropping and picking other passengers along the way.
“You find that after Makuyu stage, 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 kill in total disregard of our safety,” Gacanja mourned.
My own experience (this writer) on the other hand established that Matatus from Kutus – to Kerugoya are overloading by carrying up to five passengers in a row of seats meant for a single traveler. Conductors do not seem to care about the safety of the travelers nor do they worry over those who board without masks on.
“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,” Gacanja said.
A senior local Public Health Officer when contacted admitted 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 148 Covid-19 cases since the pandemic, with area residents expressing fear of a resurgence, if immediate action is not taken, to control the situation.
by Irungu Mwangi