Commuters stranded as bus fares skyrocket

Kinyuru Munuhe and Mercy Mwai @PeopleDailyKe

Something akin to a rat race appeared to define activities in urban centres across the breadth and length of the country most of yesterday as last-minute shoppers jammed streets on a buying spree.

And even as they complained of lean economic times and constrained capacity to purchase, the streets of Nairobi and other major towns,  shopowners and hawkers dealing in shoes, clothing, apparels and others did roaring business.   

At the bus stations where PSVs plying upcountry routes operate from in Nairobi, pain and despair added to the hustle and bustle as travellers, virtually choking the various facilities, made frantic efforts to get bus seats.

Formal business

Whereas activities within Nairobi’s CBD formal business areas appeared subdued, with offices having closed last Friday, a spot check by People Daily yesterday revealed a buzz of activity at supermarkets, open markets, beauty parlours and boutiques.

At the various bus terminus, hundreds of passengers heading to the city centre to catch their means were stranded as matatus only carried the recommended number of passengers following the recent crackdown by the government.

Among the worst hit routes were those leading to the  Country Bus Station commonly known as  Machakos for PSVs plying Western, Eastern and parts of Rift Valley. The same case applied for routes situated at Nyamakima and Tea Room which host vehicles plying the routes of Nyeri, Nakuru, Nyahururu, Bomet, Kericho routes Embu and Meru.

Apart from lack of vehicles, passengers had to contend with increased fares in as demand by far outstripped available spaces despite directive for compliance by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), which had threatened to withdraw licenses of those flouting the fares order.

At the Machakos Airport bus terminus, William Odundo who was heading to Busia accompanied by his wife and two children aged five and seven, was downcast when he discovered the one-way trip would cost him as much as Sh5, 400 instead of Sh3000 he imagined would be required. With time the hike escalated to as high as Sh2, 000 per person for a single way trip that would normally cost between Sh800 and Sh1,000.

Meanwhile, Deputy President William Ruto, as well as Inspector General of police Joseph Boinnet and the NTSA, called on Kenyans to be cautions on the roads during this festive season.

In particular, Ruto urged all road users to be extra vigilant to avoid accidents occasioned by reckless driving. “I am asking all those who are involved in the transport business to be extra cautious so that we don’t mess the festive season through accidents. We want everything to go on smoothly.” Ruto said.

Toll free number

The DP who was speaking during a prayer service at Kipsangui Girls High School in Soy, Uasin Gishu county accompanied by Governor Jackson Mandago, Soy MP Caleb Kositany, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichungwa, Mathira MP Rigathe Gachagua said there is no need for Kenyans to be united during this festive season.

Police headquarters also released toll-free numbers and advised members of the public to report any emergencies through the NPS lines 999,911,112 and complaints via toll-free line 0800721230.

“We are ready and set to ensure everyone of you is secure and safe. However, I am calling on all motorists to comply with the law and avoid causing fatalities.” said Boinnet.

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