After a commendable campaign to curb the spread of Covid-19, it is a pity that complacency or reluctance to strictly observe the safety measures outlined by health experts could erode the gains that have been made.
True, there is still a lot of work to do as the number of infections continues to increase day after day. However, thanks to the consistency with which the Ministry of Health has led the campaign, there is hope, as it is quite clear that the situation could have been worse had the safety guidelines not been enforced.
It’s for this reason that the grave danger posed by the public transport sector’s failure to observe the safety measures should worry all.
Right from the outset, the importance of this sector was recognised and specific measures formulated to prevent the spread of the deadly virus through matatus and even taxis. These are the main means of transport and could become the vehicle through which increased infections are easily transmitted.
From the beginning, the PSVs were required to reduce the number of passengers by almost a half. They were also instructed to provide water and soap for passengers or sanitisers to clean their hands before boarding the vehicle. The conductors were also instructed to only let in people wearing face masks. It worked quite well but, as is typical of Kenyans, some are ignoring the guidelines, putting the passengers and themselves at grave risk.
Health ministry officials have warned that the matatu crews ignoring the safety measures are breaking the law. However, warnings alone might not be enough, knowing the rogue behaviour of most matatu crews.
To protect everyone, the health authorities and security personnel must step up enforcement of the safety guidelines and punish those who flout them.