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Only Covid-19 certified matatus will be on roads: Transport CS

Wednesday July 08 2020
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Transport Cabinet James Macharia at a press briefing in Nairobi on July 8, 2020. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN OKINDA

Only matatus that have conformed with the government’s protocols on Covid-19 will be allowed to travel into and out of Nairobi and other counties.

PSV operators in these areas are in effect expected to fully resume services anytime they acquire a certification document from the Ministry of Health, Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said Wednesday.

The protocols, Mr Macharia said, will be implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus. The compliance certificates issued will be inspected regularly.

The CS cautioned that the PSVs can only resume cross-county travel after getting the document, which will be issued from Thursday.

NEW GUIDELINES 

He explained that these protocols, prepared jointly with the Ministry of Health, representatives of PSV operators and other stakeholders, specify measures to be taken to enforce physical distancing, facilitate contact tracing, and manage suspected Covid-19 cases in the public transport sector.

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“On July 6, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the beginning of phased reopening of the country, while enforcing measures to keep the virus under control. He ordered the end of the cessation of movement into and out of the Nairobi Metropolitan Area, Mombasa County and Mandera County, and directed that all PSVs moving into and out of these areas require mandatory certification from the Ministry of Health, in consultation with Ministry of Transport,” Mr Macharia said.

On Tuesday, a day after President Kenyatta opened up movement into and out of the previously locked counties, a majority of matatu operators lauded the move but complained that the laid down protocols had not been well elaborated.

Many also asked whether passengers will also be required to have coronavirus-free certificates.

Mr Macharia nonetheless indicated that whereas it would not be possible to test passengers, all other safety measures will have to be employed. He urged the crew and passengers to protect each other — the crew should ensure all passengers sanitise, wear masks and have their temperatures checked before they board the vehicles.

Matatu Welfare Association chairman Dickson Mbugua noted that the protocols are implementable and not difficult to observe.

Sacco leaders, he said, should in effect ensure that their vehicles are in compliance with the guidelines.

The implementation of the new protocols, Mr Macharia said, will also pave the way for resumption of the Madaraka Express passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa on Monday, July 13.

“We shall begin with one train from Nairobi to Mombasa at 8am which will arrive in Mombasa at 12.45pm. The train out of Mombasa will leave at 1.25pm and arrive in Nairobi at 6.40pm, thus leaving ample time for passengers to travel to their final destinations before the 9pm curfew,” the CS indicated.

He noted that Kenya Railways will deploy 10 coaches for passengers with a total one-way capacity of 600 passengers – 50 per cent capacity – and one additional coach which will be used to isolate passengers suspected to be infected with Covid-19.

The Nairobi Commuter Rail Service train will link the Nairobi SGR terminus to the Nairobi CBD with the service running from Nairobi CBD to the SGR Terminus at 6.35am every morning, and from the SGR terminus to Nairobi CBD at 6.50pm in the evening.

The CS further announced directives to be observed as air transport resumes, indicating that airport terminal access shall from now be restricted to workers and travellers only, except for cases where travellers need special assistance, and measures put in place to minimise contact between crew and passengers.

Others include limiting physical contact between security officers and passengers, and between airport staff and luggage, reducing on-board service to the bare minimum, and introducing phased boarding and alighting procedures to eliminate crowding.

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