Car manufacturer Isuzu East Africa and Kenyan bus operators have collaborated to redesign 23-passenger mini-buses to cut the losses the matatu industry has incurred due to COVID-19.
The need to social distance in public transport forced matatus to operate with empty seats and were forced to increase fares in order to minimise losses.
Isuzu East Africa and bus operators have sought regulatory approval for the redesigned 23-seater mini bus that accommodates more passengers and still observes social distancing regulations.
The car dealer is in talks with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) and standards agency—Kenya Bureau of Standards—to approve a redesigned 33-seater matatus to 23 passenger van.
The new design by Isuzu will allow bus operators to carry more passengers and minimize losses. The development will also see the operators reduce fare and help commuters save money as they move around the country.
In the re-designed sitting set up, no seats will be left empty but the arrangement observes social distancing rules. The redesigned mini bus will have three seat rows instead of the current front rows in the push to make the public transport business profitable.
Super Metro Sacco chairman Nelson Nduki told Business Daily that they are currently incurring a Ksh 1000 loss per trip, Super Metro have already received 25 buses with the re-designed sitting arrangement that conforms to social distancing regulations.
“To help investors break even in the matatu business, we need to cushion them against losses that occur when they operate below capacity. We have engaged the matatu operators and investors in coming up with an acceptable design that conforms to the Health ministry guidelines,” Isuzu sales and marketing director Wanjohi Kangangi said.
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