Many Kenyans in Nairobi do not have the luxury of staying home during the Covid-19 pandemic relying on the city’s Matatus, the private minibus system, to carry on business as usual.
The government imposed virus-prevention restrictions, however, are proving to be an inconvenience.
Evans Mureithi, a local bus conductor, shares his experiences with managing the new restrictions, “I have to sanitise my hands to protect myself. Before I begin my shift, I have to sanitize all the handles in the matatu. I have to wear a mask at all times as some passengers may refuse to board the matatu if I am without one.”
Bus conductors bear the burden of ensuring sanitary precautions, such as mask-wearing, temperature measuring and social distancing, are respected by the passengers — whose numbers have been cut in half as a way for the government to encourage 1-metre distance guideline.
Evans Okoth, a 30-year-old bus conductor, talks about the financial challenges of the situation, “We used to carry a capacity of 32 passengers but now it has been reduced to 14 passengers because of social distancing and this has caused us loss. The passengers too are suffering because of the fares which we have increased a little bit .”
Although curfews (9:00 pm to 4:00 am) — which cut into the bus operating hours, combined with additional sanitary expenses (such as hand sanitiser, temperature scanners and systems of cashless modes of payment) have also greatly impacted Matatu revenues, the Kenyan government has warned against increasing bus fares in these universally-challenging coronavirus times.