, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Matatu owners have protested a move by the government seeking to control fares charged by Public Service Vehicles across the country.
On Tuesday, the Ministry of Transport drafted amendments to the Traffic Act and the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) with the aim of introducing a regulation capping fares charged by PSVs.
Cabinet Secretary James Macharia in a presentation at the National Assembly said the action is aimed at cushioning the public against being overcharged.
But Matatu Owners Association (MOA) chairman Simon Kimutai has opposed the move saying that it was malicious and that matatu operators would not allow implementation of the regulations.
Kimutai denied claims that matatu operators were overcharging commuters as alleged by the Transport CS, saying that pricing on different routes was dictated by supply and demand forces.
Kimutai also decried that they had not been consulted in the regulations which would directly affect them, accusing the government of jumping the gun.
“At one time, the government liberalized the economy of this country and price controls were thrown out. We do not know the reason behind the re-introduction of the price controls but I sense mischief,” he said, adding that they would only accept price adjustments upwards.
Kimutai said the sector was currently making losses and that imposing such regulations would hurt the business even more.
“If we are making losses and you reduce the prices then the sector will collapse rendering most people jobless. The move to reduce prices is not welcome at all,” he added.
In case the draft amendments are approved by the Assembly and the President signs them into law, there will be standard fares free from interference by PSV operators and passengers will be able to plan their transport costs.