Matatu operators have come out to reveal just how much the Covid-19 pandemic has affected the transport industry, especially in Nairobi which is said to be worth Ksh 150 billion.
Gabriel Kinyua, a field manager attached to a sacco that plies the Nairobi-Rongai route revealed that before the pandemic, matatu owners would make up to Ksh12, 000 daily.
However, with the current curfew restrictions and reduced capacity, owners are struggling to make Ksh 7,000 in a day.
That means that the earnings have decreased from Ksh 360,000 to Ksh 210,000 in a month.
Sheko Beko, who owns the over 30 Zam Zam Sacco buses that ply along Thika Road, said that the operating expenses have also become very high.
“We pay insurance, seasonal fee and advance tax which is yearly. I pay the seasonal fee twice because I operate between two counties, Nairobi and Kiambu.
“There are also the cartels and the repairs which have to be done every month or once in two months. If you have to redo the interior and exterior it could cost up to Ksh 300,000,” said Beko who added that he still pays loans for a number of his 51 seater buses.
He advised anyone planning to invest in the matatu industry to shelve the plan until the situation improves, adding that he was now considering selling his entire fleet.
The frustrations were also shared by Mololine Sacco chairman Njoroge Bumasu who has been in the industry for 20 years.
Josphat, a former matatu owner said that his business collapsed due to frustrations from his insurance provider.
“I had three matatus and my last one was auctioned after my insurance provider refused to pay claims after it was involved in an accident,” he explained.
Federation of Public Transport Sector Chair Edwins Mukabanah lamented that matatu businesses are not considered SMEs and as such are not supported by financial institutions.
He also criticised that the sector is facing competition from the government which wants to invest in the BRT system instead of facilitating those already in the sector.