Matatu Bosses Reveal Decline in Number of Motorists Travelling to Rural Areas

With only a few days left to Christmas, fewer Kenyans living in urban areas are travelling upcountry owing to the tough economic environment.

Speaking to, Dickson Mbugua, chairman of Matatu Welfare Association (MWA) and Secretary of the Federation of Public Transport Sector (FPTS), explained that an average of 60 per cent of the normal travel was experienced across major bus stations in the Central Business District (CBD).

He attributed the decline to the high cost of living occasioned by the high fuel prices. Further, he dismissed the latest fuel review where the Energy and Petroleum Authority (EPRA) reduced the prices of petrol, kerosene and diesel by Ksh5, Ksh4 and Ksh2 respectively.

A photo of Matatus on a stage in Nairobi.


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Alluding to this, he explained that the decline is insignificant as the prices are still above the Ksh200 mark.

“If you increase it consecutively and then decrease it by a small margin, it makes no difference,” he remarked.

“Likewise, the number of people travelling is not a big rush as opposed to other years. It’s 60 per cent of the normal rush that is being experienced now.”

In a bid to cope with the tough times, Mbugua pointed out that the matatu Saccos often acquire a Short Term Road Service License (RSL) to get a permit to travel long distances.

“There are a number of them (matatus acquiring RSL) though not as many as before. They pertain mostly to the Western regions as well as North Rift regions,” he pointed out. 

The Welfare Association chairman stated that the fare rates in most long-distance travel buses had shot up by an average of Ksh500.

“Of course, the fare has gone up. The current drop in prices is insignificant. It has little effect on the consumption. If one used to pay Ksh1,500, currently it’s around Ksh2,000. You have to account it’s one-way traffic as there are no return trips,” he noted.

His remarks were, however, contradicted by various Saccos who also revealed to that they experienced longer queues that began in early December, with passengers seeking to book for their travels.

Mary Ojwang’, a sales representative at Easy Coach, explained that bookings began as early as November, with Kenyans anticipating the festive period.

“There has been an increase on our end. We are fully booked. To me, there is no change,” she detailed.

“Most of our customers began booking since last month, so if you plan to travel right now, it’s going to be particularly difficult.”

Easy Coach is primarily known for long-distance travel across Nyanza, Western, North Rift, South Rift and Kampala regions.

A representative from Guardian Coach Bus also cited an increase in bookings in December.

“People are still booking, I can say there’s an increase. They began booking in November,” the representative stated. 

A photo of police officer controlling traffic along Uhuru Highway in Nairobi.


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