We may pull out of certain routes, say matatu operators

PSV operators in the North Rift region are unable to raise their fares.  [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) plying short-distance routes might be forced out of business.

A section of operators in the North Rift region Friday said despite the sharp increase in fuel prices, they are unable to raise their fares.

They claimed they continue to make losses.

“We are staring at a bleak future in PSV industry because it is becoming difficult to operate. Adjusting fare on short distance travellers is not workable and we have maintained prices for long, making us to record losses,” said David Kiptalam, chairman of Nyaru Sacco operates between Eldoret in Uasin Gishu and Nyaru in Elgeyo Marakwet county.

“When price of a liter of diesel was Sh70, we charged Sh 150 between Eldoret and Nyaru. The bus fare remains Sh150 even as current price of diesel hit Sh201,” he said.

He observed that Kenyans are hard hit, saying majority of commuters do not have money and still bargain to have the fare lowered.

“We no longer get enough passengers because people have minimised travel. Even civil servants who often frequent urban centres are making rare travel. People now transact business using their mobile phones,” he said.

Michael Kiplagat, the chairman of matatu owners in Uasin Gishu County, said the government needs to consider reintroducing subsidy on petroleum products.  

“Some matatu owners are withdrawing for other ventures. The government should reintroduce subsidies to protect both the matatu operators and passengers. We cannot increase fare further because the commuters too have no money,” said Kiplagat, who is also the chairman of Two Ways Sacco, and member of Crossroads and Nyaru.

“Bus fare in most routes has not been increased and we observe traffic regulations.”