Public service vehicles plying the western and Nyanza routes are cashing in on election fever with passengers forced to fork out three times the normal fare to travel upcountry.
A spot check at the Machakos upcountry bus terminus in downtown Nairobi yesterday revealed that regular buses including Eldoret Express, Matunda Bus, Climax and Msafiri which ply the Western Kenya route were charging Sh1600-2000, up from regular Sh500 to Sh700.
At Easy Coach, our enquiries reported that most buses have already been booked up to August 5, and the few available spaces are going for the normal standard fee of Sh1700. Western Express which normally charges Sh1000 is fully booked up to August 6.
‘’We are experiencing the highest demand of all year, and have stopped all bookings. All buses are fully booked up to August 6,’’ said Ullah Muyoka, booking attendant at Western Express.
Long queues were seen at the North Rift and Great Rift shuttle offices along Mfangano Street where 14 seater vans were charging up to Sh1500 to Eldoret, up from Sh800 and Kitale up from Sh1000.
In spite of this, hundreds of passengers carrying luggage continued to throng various bus terminae in Nairobi, with many forced to either sleep at the terminus or wake up early to catch early buses.
Linet Minayo, a passenger traveling to Vihiga county said the scramble for tickets the previous night had forced her to wait for the morning bus. Alex Mwanga, a driver with Climax Express attributed the high passenger turnout to school closing for holidays and election fever. He likened the current turnout to what they experience during Christmas holidays.
“The increase in bus fare is as a result of high demand. It is normal in any business. Fuel prices are not better either,’’ said Mwanga
Even so, passengers think that operators are just greedy, taking advantage of the high demand.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) announced a decrease in fuel prices in the country, an aspect attributed to a decline in average landing costs of imported fuel during their monthly fuel review last month.
Petrol, diesel and kerosene went down by Sh1.64, Sh2.43 and Sh2.48 less per litre respectively.
The fare hike is however not across all bus terminus in the country. The Star survey at the Tea Room terminus in Nairobi showed that matatus to Nyeri, Nanyuki, Meru and surrounding regions were charging normal fares.