Establish vaccination centres at bus stations: Matatu owners urge government, dismissing directive on proof of Jab for service

Matatu Owners Association Chair Simon Kimutai.

Matatu Owners Association now wants the government to establish Covid-19 vaccination centres at the bus stations to scale up the vaccination drive.

Speaking during the annual National Delegates Conference held at Luke Hotel Thika road, the association chairman Simon Kimutai said this will aid in vaccinating the matatu crew and thousands of Kenyans who are not yet vaccinated.

"Let the vaccination be done at matatu stations. Our customers are ordinary people who rush to work get Sh300 or Sh400 to put food on their table. They don't have time to spend a day looking for the vaccine," Kimutai said.

Kimutai said that 80 percent of matatu passengers have not received the Covid-19 jab and enforcing the directive will cripple their business.

He called on the industry stakeholders to continue observing other health measures like wearing face masks, hand washing and sanitizing, and checking of temperature at the entry point to avert the spread of the virus. 

“We should not deny people to travel and meet their loved ones during this festive season. As a sector, we lost much during the lockdowns and we are not ready to enforce the directive issued by the government,” he added.

The chair noted that the association is in full support of the government move to stem out the virus, including the inoculation drive. 

"We are in full support of the vaccination exercise but it should be done right. We can even pin posters or flyers on our vehicles to encourage people to take the vaccine. But pushing it as a requirement for transport will cripple our business and we are not ready," he said.

The government issued the directive in November 2021, requiring that all Kenyans planning to travel for the holidays provide proof of vaccination by December 21, 2021.

Health CS Mutahi Kagwe said that no government service will be rendered to anyone without proof of the vaccine going forward.

“Such services will include but not be limited to KRA services, Education, Immigration Services, Hospital, and Prison Visitation, NTSA and Port Services among others,” Kagwe said.

Omicron variant

Earlier, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) urged the government to increase the vaccination exercise by setting up more centres to beat the new Omicron variant.

On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) labelled omicron as a Covid-19 variant of concern. 

According to South African scientists, the variant has a high number of mutations – more than 30 on the protein spike. 

WHO said it is not clear whether Omicron is more transmissible than other variants and studies are underway to determine the causing factors.

“Preliminary evidence suggests there may be an increased reinfection with Omicron, for example, people who previously had Covid-19 can easily be re-infected with Omicron), as compared to other variants of concern, but the information is limited,” the WHO said.

Omicron variant has been reported in South Africa, the US, and other 23 countries according to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Kenya has not reported any omicron-related case but the country said it will not ban flights to and from nations where Omicron has been reported.

Some of these nations include the United Kingdom, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Botswana, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain.

The country’s Covid-19 infection cases now stand at 255,164 as of Wednesday December 1, 2021. 

 

See also: Covid-19 Vaccination: Government assures Kenyans of transparency in administration of the vaccine

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