Matatu operators in the city have started a rigorous campaign to get rid of bedbugs in matatus.

Chrispin Omollo, a tout along the Juja and Thika route, told The Standard he was shocked to discover that there were bedbugs in most matatus.

“We used to associate bedbugs with poor hygienic conditions in some houses but I am shocked to see these parasites invading matatus and feeding on human blood. These parasites are now threatening to cripple our business since many people fear to board public service vehicles,” Mr Omollo said.

He said most matatus plying routes such as Kangemi, Thika, Juja, Eastleigh, Jogoo, Rongai, Ngong, Mombasa and Kawangare have stickers indicating a line that one can call to seek help.

Nairobi residents using public transport should file complaints with bus companies if they see bedbugs in their vehicles, Matatu Welfare Association Chairman Dickson Mbugua said.

Mr Mbugua said matatus carry people of all walks of life on a daily basis and it is wrong for public service vehicle owners not to fumigate their vehicles.

“We will address the menace by asking the sacco managements to regularly fumigate their vehicles to keep the parasites at bay. But passengers should also observe caution since some vehicles have stickers to alert them of the bedbugs and how to get rid of them even at home. We will also ensure the safety of passengers in the entire routes in the city,” he said.

The parasites are carried unknowingly by passengers from their homes or offices to matatu seats, hence creating a food web.

“I recently asked a commuter who was seated next to me in a matatu to town to remove a starved brown parasite that was moving freely on the collar of his shirt. It was a bedbug,” said Jackie Nduta, a city resident.