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Proposed Bill grants Transport CS power to regulate matatu fares

The key motivation behind the proposed amendments is to shield commuters from the impact of increasing fuel prices.

Roads and Transport CS Kipchumba Murkomen speaks during his vetting in the National Assembly

Kimilili Member of Parliament, Didmus Barasa has introduced a bill that seeks to grant the Transport Cabinet Secretary the powers to regulate fares.

According to the proposed National Transport and Safety Authority (Amendment) Bill, 2023, the proposals will affect public transport vehicles.

If passed by the National Assembly, the bill would empower the Cabinet Secretary for Transport to set both minimum and maximum fares for on various routes.

In the current situation, matatu operators have been free to determine their own fare prices.

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This has led to fluctuating fares depending on factors such as the route, weather conditions, time of day, fuel prices, and competition.

The NTSA Act is amended by inserting the following new subsection - the Cabinet Secretary may in consultation with the Authority make regulations prescribing the maximum and minimum fares payable by passengers in the public service vehicles within the country,” Barasa's bill proposes

The key motivation behind the proposed amendments is to shield commuters from the impact of increasing fuel prices.

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Over the past months, fare prices have been on a steady rise due to a sharp surge in fuel costs, leaving many passengers burdened with higher expenses for their daily commutes.

Barasa emphasized that introducing a new section to regulate fare policies would be instrumental in preventing excessive fare hikes.

The new guidelines would ensure that relevant stakeholders are actively engaged in developing these policies to guarantee fair and reasonable fares for passengers.

While the bill's primary focus is on protecting consumers, it also raises concerns among private investors in the transportation sector.

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Granting the Cabinet Secretary the power to set fare caps could result in potential clashes between the State's interests in consumer protection and private investors' interests in maintaining profitability.

To address these concerns, the bill outlines the need for careful consideration and consultation with all relevant parties.

By collaborating with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the Cabinet Secretary will be tasked with developing regulations that strike a balance between fair fares for passengers and the financial viability of PSV operators.

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The proposed bill inserts a new subsection into the existing NTSA Act, emphasizing the collaborative approach in developing policy guidelines for fare regulation.

This approach aims to avoid arbitrary decisions that could lead to conflicts between transport stakeholders. With carefully crafted guidelines, the government intends to establish a clear framework for maximum fares that will discourage fare abuse by operators.

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