Mwikindu: Are impromptu fare hikes really necessary?

A Matatu operating in Mombasa./COURTESY

A few weeks ago the Motorists association of Kenya called for a strike in a move to protest the 16% levy that has been proposed on fuel products.

The association which is also composed of members of the public service transport system had urged motorists to park their vehicles in the middle of the road and walk to work with an aim of pressurizing the government to rescind their decision to impose a 16% levy on fuel products.

However, the boycott did not materialize not only for the first time but also a second time.

Public service vehicles instead announced new fare prices in a bid to keep up with the looming increment in fuel prices.

A little reprieve came when President Uhuru Kenyatta proposed an 8% levy which was dramatically passed by a divided parliament.

By the time the 8% levy was being passed Matatu’s had already hiked their fares and neither did they issue a statement stating whether they would reduce the fares in line with the new reduced levy.

The passenger has now adapted to a phenomenon they are well used to The hiking of fares at the slightest provocation.

Matatus have long gained notoriety in hiking fares at the snap of a finger and passengers find themselves on the receiving end of situations such as a police crackdown which they have completely no control over.

A perfect example is during the holidays or whenever schools are reopening.

Fares double and at times even tripling and parents have to dig deeper.

The worst time of the year is during December and the equally economically draining month of January when most families have to travel upcountry for the holiday and a few weeks later they are digging their pockets deeper during the reopening of schools.

The situation gets worse whenever the sky opens up unexpectedly and travelers again have to dig deeper.

Well, we all understand that traffic jams worsen whenever it’s raining but rain does not just affect the transport sector alone.

The retail sector is the perhaps the most affected with open-air businesses being forced to close early for the day or even worse remaining closed for days.

So is it really fair for the transport sector to be the ones capitalizing on the situation.

And that begs the question why is the Consumer Federation of Kenya (COFEK)  silent as consumers suffer in silence?

We have seen them lobbying for a drop in fares before but why haven’t they commented when the fuel levy was put at 8%?

COFEK has been doing a great job in helping to protect Kenyans against exploitation of consumers by KPLC but it would not do any harm to save Kenyans from the fare hike menace.

The views of the author do not really reflect the views of the media house