Posted July 14, 2020 1:28 pm by

A traffic police officer pulls an MSL Sacoo bus over near the Thika Road Mall roundabout in Nairobi. After realising that six passengers are sharing seats, the officer walks to the driver’s door.

A brief chat, a knowing look and a discreet bribe later, the unbothered officer signals him to drive on. The crew has just got away with the offence of failing to enforce social distancing rules.

NO SOCIAL DISTANCING

When Covid-19 struck, the chaos that has characterised Kenya’s public transport for years was brought to the fore. From poor regulation to pervasive corruption, inefficient Saccos and exploitation of passengers, the confusion has persisted, only worsened by the pandemic.

The current crisis caused commuters the dilemma of choosing between safety and being able to move around.

In the Protocol for Public Road Transport Operations announced on Wednesday by the government, matatus are required to establish measures to enforce social distancing, contact tracing and to manage suspected cases of Covid-19.

“We’ve put in place an inspection and certification process of ensuring PSV operators observe the new protocol and guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health,” Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said.

Even after suspension of the ban on inter-county movement, most of the bus operators who spoke to the Nation lamented that their Saccos had yet to communicate to them the way forward.

“We’re waiting to hear from the sacco management what we need to do before we can start travelling,” Mr Josphat Mutua, a driver with Manatwa Sacco, which plies the Nairobi-Kitui route, told the Nation.

A spot check by the Nation on most routes in the city showed that strict adherence to the Health ministry guidelines hasn’t been possible due to structural challenges.

At various bus termini, where long queues are seen during rush hour, no social distancing is observed as agitated passengers push and shove. Many are tired after work and want to get home before the curfew begins.

‘‘Every evening you have to fight to board the bus. It’s annoying,” Ms Michelle Barasa said at MSL’s Tom Mboya Street terminus, adding that she has had to leave work early for the last three months.

RUSH HOUR

But what has the situation on city roads been like in the last four months?

With matatus now operating at half capacity, passengers have been footing operation costs by digging deeper into their pockets. This is particularly painful for commuters who use matatus to get to work every day.

A 2018 report by Deloitte showed Read More…Police turn a blind eye as PSV crew flout Covid-19 safety rules  Police turn a blind eye as PSV crew flout Covid-19 safety rules  Police turn a blind eye as PSV crew flout Covid-19 safety rules  Police turn a blind eye as PSV crew flout Covid-19 safety rules