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A matatu conductor, John Charo assists a passenger to sanitize his hands before boarding the vehicle at Mwembe Tayari in Mombasa. The coronavirus crisis has hit the matatu business hard. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]
Passenger transport revenue has plummeted by over 70 per cent amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Matatu Owners Association has said.

“The advice for Kenyans to stay home and the restriction of movements only to essential service providers has grounded the transport business on its knees,” said the association’s chairman Simon Kimutai said.

A curfew was imposed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday, following the rising cases of Covid-19 infections in the country, which now stand at 31. The curfew will make it even worse for the industry since people will not be expected to be outdoors by 7pm.

14-seater matatus now carry a maximum of 8 passengers, 25-seater vehicles a maximum of 15 passengers, with vehicles carrying more than 30 passengers directed not exceed a 60 per cent sitting capacity.

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This will leave the transport system ailing as it depends on the movement of people for various purposes within and outside the counties. 

According to Mr Kimutai, the directive will affect repayment of loans and this will call for renegotiation of terms by lending institutions to accommodate this predicament, according to him. 

“Workers and vehicle owners in the passenger transport industry will have no income as the business is individually run under saccos,” he stated.

Matatu operators have since increased fares by more than half in most areas to cover the running costs, but it’s still not adequate, according to Kimutai.

“The fare increment was to cover for the passengers removed to create space between individuals in the vehicles. This is still inadequate because of the low number of people travelling. Fewer trips are being made,” he said.

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Passenger transport sector offers employment to thousands and numerous other supporting sectors in the economy.

The recent directive made by the government that restricts the movement of people will dictate tough times not only for the transport industry but also for many other sectors in the economy.

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