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New PSV rules to be gazzetted

Kenya’s chaotic public transport system will have no individual investors when a new set of tough rules comes into effect later in the year.

The new rules restrict the issuance of Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licenses to companies that own at least five vans. The fresh set of regulations meant to reduce road carnage also demand that Matatu and bus drivers be employed on permanent and pensionable terms complete with insurance cover, annual leave and scheduled shifts.

The proposed rules, published by Transport Secretary Eng. Michael Kamau, further require PSV operators to make public their fare tariffs and issue passengers with tickets. Long-distance operators would be required to maintain a travelers’ manifest for each journey. The firms will also be required to comply with labour laws and regulations, including in respect to statutory deductions, health and safety of the workplace. Work Injury Benefits Act (WIBA) insurance, statutory leave days and written contracts of employment for staff. An operator of vehicles under a franchising model or providing management services will be required to have at least 25 vehicles. Failure to observe any of the provisions would attract a fine of Ksh. 100,000 or up to one year in jail.

“Kamau” rules

The new ‘Kamau’ rules, though fashioned to reign in the messy Matatu sector, may act as an entry barrier to the fluid PSV business by locking out small entrepreneurs. This means that the multi-billion-shilling Matatu industry is likely to be dominated by established players such as KBS, Citi Hoppa, City Shuttle, Metro Trans, MOA Compliant, 2NK and Molo Line.

The regulations come with strict guidelines, especially for the owners of the PSV vehicles that are supposed to operate at night. Matatu Owners Association chairperson Mr. Simon Kimutai welcomed the proposed PSV code noting that many accidents have been caused by drivers who fall asleep while behind the steering wheel at night. “Having driven for long hours, these drivers get exhausted and start dozing while driving, this is how they end up causing accidents” said Mr. Kimutai.

He said having two drivers on board will help reduce accidents that occur at night. “The passengers might be required to pay more from the new move but this will be for the good of their safety,” he noted. Under the guidelines, a person shall not operate a vehicle for long distance passenger public services unless the vehicle has a valid license issued by the regulator – the National Transport Safety Authority (NTSA).

Bring into effect

The regulations are meant to operationalize the NTSA Act which was enacted last year. There are about 22,052 PSV-licensed operators in Kenya according to data from the Transport Licensing Board (TLB). Fourteen-seater vans make up three quarters of the total number of public transport vehicles. The rules give owners of long distance passenger vehicles the option of operating during the day, at night or for 24hour a day. Under the legal notice, operators of a night time long distance passenger service shall employ drivers certified by the authority to drive on the particular route at night time. This guideline is meant to ensure that drivers do not suffer from fatigue associated with driving for long hours.

However the two drivers on board means the cost incurred by the Matatu owners will have to go up, which might eventually be passed on to passengers. Mr. Kimutai said industry players will have a chance to discuss the regulations and give their views.

Making stopovers

The regulations also making it mandatory for a PSV to make a stopover of at least 30 minutes to allow passengers and drivers to refresh. For a corporate body to be registered as a public service vehicle operator, it would present its certificate of registration as a company under the Companies Act, or a Cooperative Society under the Cooperative Societies Act Chapter 490.

It would also have to disclose its directors and senior managers, base of operation, proposed route, timetable of services and tariff structure, including for off-peak. A tax compliance certificate from KRA and a certified third party insurance cover would also be required. To ensure the operation is run efficiently, the regulations propose the employment of an office manager, an accounts clerk, a qualified mechanic and a route inspector, all governed by a code of conduct.

Operators would also be required to invest in a management system, including for customer complaints and fleet management, whose records would be shared with the regulator on a monthly basis.

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