A nationwide campaign has been launched by the government to encourage all public transport stakeholders, including drivers, conductors, boda boda riders, among others to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works, in collaboration with the Federation of Public Transport Sector (FPTS), have prioritized the public transport operators, as key drivers to the Kenyan economy and therefore the need to vaccinate them all.
Presiding over the launch at the Railways Bus Terminus, Nairobi, Ministry of Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe, thanked the transport sector and every stakeholder who came to witness and participate in the mass vaccination campaign.
Kagwe said that the Government wants to save lives across the public transport sector, together with people they interact with on a daily basis and urged all the County Governments to emulate the initiative.
“The transport sector should be on the frontline in this fight against Covid-19 because without them, the public is weaker,” he said, while recognizing the sector’s service of getting health practitioners to work.
The CS noted that since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, the public has suffered, especially the transport sector and therefore, everyone should come together to reduce the positivity rate, by increasing the vaccination rate and eventually open up the economy.
“We should all strive to reach a target of at least 5.8 million vaccinated people by Mashujaa Day and we will be considered heroes because we protect other people,” Kagwe encouraged.
He further urged all the public transport operators to be their brother’s keeper by ensuring their colleagues are vaccinated through the multi-agency approach, that include the Kenya Red Cross that will deploy mobile clinics, to various bus termini.
Kagwe assured the public that there are enough vaccines in the Country, compounded by the arrival of Johnson and Johnson vaccine, yesterday and a further deployment of Pfizer Vaccine today.
On the other hand, the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, Urban Development and Public Works Cabinet Secretary (CS), James Macharia, lauded the Ministry of Health for working tirelessly through four Covid-19 waves and managed to deal with the pandemic.
I am still surprised by the reduction of the positivity rate to 2.2 per cent from the recent 20 per cent,” Macharia said, while thanking CS Kagwe and his team for a job well done.
He noted the high risk of infection in the public transport sector, since approximately 90 per cent of Kenyans, use Public Service Vehicles (PSVs).
“The cashless system must be implemented in coordination with the National Transport Safety Authority, to reduce the infection rate in the transport system,” he confirmed.
He further thanked the government for increasing the carrying capacity of the PSVs from the initial 60 per cent to the current 100 per cent, but cautioned the operators to strictly stick to the containment measures.
“The Ministry of Health has ensured inclusivity, where no one is left behind and there is no discrimination, whatsoever, through this vaccination campaign,” he maintained, adding that all PSVs operators, should comply with the Covid-19 protocols from the Ministry of Health and protect everyone.
FPTS Chairman, Edwins Mukabanah, reminisced on the difficult journey of all stakeholders to coin the vaccination campaign and implement it in the transport sector.
He thanked the Government for the return to full capacity for the PSVs, but still lamented the night time curfew being a major challenge to the transport sector.
“We should adopt the cashless transaction and follow all Covid-19 protocols through wearing masks, sanitizing, and opening windows because we are doing this for ourselves and not for the government,” he reiterated.
Meanwhile, the Matatu Owners Association Chairman, Simon Kimutai, insisted on a complete vaccination campaign to allow for the smooth running of the next General Election.
“I also ask the government to reduce the parking fees to cushion the industry which is still hurting from Covid-19 crisis,” he said.
By Michael Omondi