The festive season is here and many Kenyans are expected to travel upcountry to celebrate with family and friends.
Others will make trips to holiday destinations to enjoy good times and make memories.
A good majority of these travellers will use public means in the form of buses, matatus and tuk tuks.
With the expected rush for PSV transport during the festive season comes the ugly side of high demand — inflated fares, double bookings, recklessly-driven vehicles, overloading, delays and outright bad manners by drivers and conductors.
But, as a PSV passenger, do you know that you have rights? Do you know there are laws and policies that protect you from exploitation and inhumane treatment during PSV travel?
Here are some:
The Traffic Act requires drivers and conductors to behave in a civil, honest and orderly manner.
The law says the vehicle administrators shall not wilfully deceive or refuse to inform passengers of the correct fare for any journey. If overcharged, passengers have rights to demand an explanation.
PSV users should make use of hotlines provided in case of an accident, report acts of careless driving, excess passengers and theft among other incidents.
In March, the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA) wanted to introduce amendments that would enable them to regulate fare tariffs but the proposal was shot down by vehicle owners.
So, in the meantime, the various saccos will still inflate fares depending on demand.
If the vehicle is delayed by more than four hours, owing to a breakdown or any fault or neglect by the owner or his servants or agents, any passenger who has paid fare may elect to alight and recover a proportion of the fare in respect of the uncompleted journey.
It shall be the duty of the person who received the fare to repay it to the passenger on demand.
The Traffic Act provides that ''any person failing to repay a fare shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine not exceeding Sh10,000 in addition to being ordered to repay the fare, and the amount of the fare shall be recoverable as a fine.''
DEATH AND INJURY
In case you are involved in an accident as a passenger, you should file a third party claim with the driver's auto insurance provider.
Most insurance firms cover third party bodily injury and property damage arising out of an accident.
Every public sacco has its own rules that govern all drivers and passengers.
In most long-distance journeys, in case you alight and forget your luggage in the vehicle, you can claim your bags at the booking office.
Most saccos deny responsibility for lost luggage but, if you have a receipt, that indicates it was received by the bus or shuttle company, you can lodge a court case.
For those travelling over long distances, passengers are entitled to choose their preferred seat which is comfortable.
The driver is also supposed to stop over at a motel to allow passengers to eat and use rest rooms before proceeding.
According to the Traffic Act, a child who is under the age of five years and who does not occupy a seat shall not count as a person.
The driver or conductor does not have to force you to pay for an extra seat for a child under five years if you don’t want to.
You are also allowed to pay for one seat to be occupied by your two children as the Traffic Act provides that ''any two children each of whom is over the apparent age of five years and under the apparent age of 12 years shall count as one passenger.''
Every person should be able to easily access a door or window.
The Act states that no seat, luggage, parcel or other object shall be placed in a motor omnibus so as to obstruct persons attempting to reach any door, emergency window or panel.
However, as a public service vehicle passenger, you have to adhere to the rules provided by matatu saccos for your own safety.
Saccos do not allow alcohol, drugs, weapons, pets, gas cylinders on board and require that a passenger be inspected before boarding the vehicle.
Fasten your seat belt and alight at an authorised bus stop to avoid paying a Sh1,000 fine.