Lockdown lifted but Kenyans still can’t travel over lack of guidelines

Tuesday July 07 2020

A matatu at the Machakos Country Bus Station waits for customers on July 7, 2020. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NTION MEDIA GROUP


Kenyans will have to wait a little longer to travel despite the lifting of a cessation of movement order into and out of Nairobi and Mombasa due to a delay in the establishment of guidelines for transport operators.

While allowing movement into and out of Kenya’s two largest cities on Monday, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered the Ministries of Transport and Health to issue guidelines on the resumption of travel.

“There shall be no movement of public transport vehicles into and out of the areas previously under cessation of movement restrictions, without the public transport providers being compliant with all protocols developed by Ministry of Health,” said President Kenyatta.

Kenyans eager to travel the were forced to return home disappointed on learning that public transport companies still had a long way to go before resumption of services.

At the Machakos bus station in Nairobi, hundreds of passengers arrived at dawn hoping to catch a bus upcountry. But after vainly waiting for hours, they went back home.



Most bus saccos said they were yet to acquire the necessary approvals to travel out of Nairobi, with most of their vehicles remaining grounded.

"The earliest bus transport is likely to resume is next week," Mr Amos Barasa, an attendant at Greenline Parcels Company, told the Nation, adding: "For now, only goods are moving."

It had been expected that inter-county bus services would be operational by Tuesday.

Quite a number of people had already booked tickets immediately after the President’s speech on Monday.

On Tuesday, the situation was however the opposite as operators continued parking their vehicles as it has been for the last three months.

Others opted to take their vehicles for servicing. Mr Josphat Mutua, a bus driver with Manatwa Sacco which plies the Kitui-Machakos-Nairobi route, said their managers had not yet communicated on the way forward.

The situation was the same across major towns in Western Kenya.

In Siaya town, Ms Jesca Cherono, a ticket clerk with Guardian Angel bus company told Nation that, by 10 am, over 100 passengers already booked to travel to Nairobi.

In Homa Bay, the bus park was a beehive of activity as several bus companies made final touches to their fleets.

In Kisii, dozens of travellers were stranded as there were no vehicles. Operators expressed frustration at the government for causing the confusion.

Calls and text messages to Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia went unanswered.

Reporting by James Kahongeh, Brian Okinda, Caroline Wafula, Benson Ayienda, Derick Luvega, George Odiwuor and Dickens Wasonga