Africa Battles COVID-19: Riding the wave

Across Africa Public transport is an essential service, the sector serves millions of Africans on a daily basis. Transporting goods and passengers to nearly all corners of the continent. But with the corona virus pandemic It is not business as usual, the virus has made the public transport industry re-look at how best to combat the spread of the corona virus.

In our on going coverage CGTN takes a look at how the Public transport sector is bracing itself against the covid 19 pandemic.


The mode of transport popular with majority of Kenyans is, the Matatu. These are public buses, mini buses or vans that ferry passengers and goods across the country. CGTN’s Asta Tall spent a day with a matatu crew on one of the Kenyan routes, she wanted to find out how the Matatu industry is coping.

In Kenya, The Government issued stricter rules to govern the public transport sector on how the players will conduct themselves in the wake of the pandemic. During a press conference held on Friday, March 20, held in Nairobi, Kenya’s Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, laid down guidelines that were aimed at reducing congestion in the public service vehicles.

“14-seater matatus will carry a maximum of eight passengers; 25-seater vehicles a maximum of 15 passengers, 30 seater vehicles and above to maintain a sixty per cent maximum of sitting capacity,” Kagwe stated.

He further informed that the new guidelines issued would similarly extend to the Standard guage Railway (SGR) and commuter trains plying through the country every single day. The CS further added that all the public service operators were expected to clean and disinfect their vehicles at the end of each trip.

The Health CS further directed the public transport operators to provide hand sanitizers for passengers.

According to Abdi Saddam a route manager in one of the Matatu Saccos in Kenya the outbreak of covid 19 has hit the matatu sector really hard, many passengers are staying at home thus impacting on the bottom-lines of the public transport vehicles.


The taxi industry are also feeling the pinch. Drivers are a worried the lot as a result of the covid 19 pandemic, the drivers come into contact with millions of passengers and due to the fact that the car is small, the threat of contracting or spreading the virus is real.  Some drivers are avoiding accepting ride request to or from the Airport, they fear the passengers coming or going out of the country are a high risk and thus not worth the money they will make in as much as the airport route is more lucrative for them.


The Railway sector has not been left behind, Kenya’s flag ship the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has put in place a raft of measures to ensure that the trains and passengers are safe. According to the management the trains are sprayed daily, in addition, all passengers are screened before they board the train. The screen takes the form of checking the passengers temperature, providing hand sanitizers, providing protective gear for the crew this includes, face masks, gloves, thermometers and hand sanitizers. The management of the GSR has even managed to provide an isolation coach and evacuation protocols just incase a passenger falls sick during the journey.

The Kenyan scenario is being replicated in other African countries to try and disrupt the chain of transmission.