Compliant PSVs to start receiving certificates today

Thursday, July 9th, 2020 00:00 |
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia with officials from the transport and health sector addresses the press yesterday in Nairobi. He CS said there will be no mandatory quarantine for passengers arriving in Kenya from other countries if they don’t show Covid-19 symptoms. Photo/PD/John Ochieng

 Bernard Gitau @benagitau

All Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) will have to comply with strict Covid-19 protocols before being allowed to resume operations to and from counties previously placed under cessation of movement, the government announced yesterday.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said PSVs will have to be inspected and issued with certificates of compliance before resuming operations.

“We have put in place an inspection and certification process of ensuring that PSVs observe the new protocol and guidelines issued by the ministry of Health,” he said.

Macharia announced that the certificate will be ready for issuing to compliant PSV operators starting today. 

The operators and Saccos in the public transport sector will not be required to pay any money to receive the certificates.

The PSVs and Saccos can apply for compliance through the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) website, he stated.

“The certificate outlines the protocol and guidelines for the PSVs, including physical distancing, hand washing, disinfecting the vehicle after every trip, facilitating contact tracing and managing suspected Covid-19 cases,” the CS said.

He added that passengers and crew could report suspected Covid-19 cases in their vehicles through the ministry of Interior hotline 988.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on July 6 extended the 9pm to 4am nationwide curfew for 30 days but lifted the cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera counties, starting Tuesday.

Speaking in Nairobi on Monday, Uhuru said lifting of the cessation of movement means more people would be exposed to Covid-19 and urged Kenyans to be their brother’s keeper.

“In the next 21 days, we shall study patterns and interactions and the spread of the disease. Any trends that signal the worsening of the pandemic, we will have no choice but to return to lockdown,” said the President.

With economic hardships over Covid-19 impact worsening, most residents of counties that were under lockdown felt the pain due to lack of food and rent money, withsome being ejected from their houses.

The President called for personal responsibility among Kenyans especially those travelling upcountry, warning that the elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions were at risk of dying from the disease.

Yesterday, Association of Bus Owners chair Edwins Mukabana and Matatu Welfare Associations (MWA) chair Dickson Mbugua welcomed the new protocols, but urged counties and the national government to support PSVs through an economic stimulus programme.

“Facemasks, sanitisers and disinfection of vehicles regularly is costly, hence we urge the government to help us in acquiring them to reduce cost of doing business,” said Mukabana.

Mbugua, on the other hand, called on county governments to provide hand-washing stations in all major termini across the country.

The CS, however, stated that the government would not force PSV operators to charge specific amount of fares as the country’s economy encouraged competition.

 The CS also announced that the Madaraka Express passenger train service will resume operations from July 13 with one train from Nairobi to Mombasa and back.

“Kenya Railways shall deploy 10 coaches for passengers with a total one-way capacity of 600 passengers (or 50 per cent capacity), and one additional coach shall be used to isolate passengers suspected to be infected with Covid-19,” he said.

The CS also said there will be a Nairobi commuter rail service train that will link the Nairobi SGR terminus in Mlolongo to the CBD. “The service shall run from Nairobi CBD to the SGR terminus at 6.35am and from SGR terminus to Nairobi CBD at 6.50 pm in the evening,” he added.

During his address, the President announced that local air travel shall resume by July 15 and international flights from August 1, under guidelines by the ministries of Health and Transport.

Addressing the protocol in the aviation sector, Macharia said airport terminal access shall be restricted to workers and travellers except for cases where travellers needed special assistance.

“There will be no visitors or people accompanying someone who is travelling to avoid crowding and adhere to social distance,” said the CS.

He disclosed that five airlines had confirmed they will resume local air passenger transport services.

They include; Kenya Airways, Jambo Jet, Aim Air, Boscovic Air and Scenic Air.

“Air operators will also reduce on-board service to the bare minimum, and introduce phased boarding and alighting procedures to eliminate crowding at the aisles,” said Macharia.

Airline crew shall be exempted from quarantine after operating a flight if their body temperature is not above 37.5 degrees Celsius or have no covid-19 symptoms and those with symptoms will be quarantined at home or at a designated facility.

“All passengers shall be exempt from quarantine on arrival at their destinations if their temperature is not above 37.5 degrees Celsius. When there is a suspected case on a flight, passengers within two rows of the passenger with symptoms shall be quarantined for testing,” he added.

Meanwhile, airlines will not operate on 50 per cent capacity as the CS said it would not be economically viable.

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