Matatus hike fares as key coalitions fear voter apathy in Mt Kenya

Meru matatus fares

Matatus at the Meru town main bus terminus on August 8,2022. Matatus have hiked fares from Nairobi to Meru as more people travel from the city.

Photo credit: David Muchui I Nation Media Group

The Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya wings in Mt Kenya have revealed plans to marshal high voter turnout, including ferrying the sick and the elderly to vote.

This comes as fears of voter apathy set in the region hours before tomorrow's vote.

The Tuesday election has been billed as a neck to neck contest between Mr Odinga and DP Ruto where every vote matters.

"We have a problem here ... The matatus have hiked fares by over 100 percent. And it is normal. When demand is high and supply is low, it is obvious that such would happen," said Elizabeth Wangari, a registered voter in Mathioya, Murang'a County.

She said the fare to Murang'a has risen from the usual Sh250 to Sh500.

"I am strongly compelled to vote and I must travel since I can afford it. My worry is the many low-income earners who operate on shoestring budgets. The urge to vote is high but affordability is low," he said.

Drop in fares

Mt Kenya Matatu Owners Welfare Association chairman Martin Ngugi told Nation.Africa that talks were underway to have all Mt Kenya-bound matatus from Nairobi, Mombasa, Thika, Nyahururu, Nanyuki, Nakuru and Nyeri be paid a subsidy so as to lower fares.

"We are anticipating a major drop in fares charged to and from villages on Tuesday morning. Some might even zero-rate fares,” he said.

“We are also stakeholders in the Mt Kenya democratisation process and as matatu owners we are in talks. We should also participate in helping our people vote."

Speaking in Murang'a town, the UDA mobilisation coordinator Joseph Waweru said: "It is all about numbers and we will maximise ours to turn out and vote".  

Governor Mwangi wa Iria, who is supporting Azimio, announced the same plans, saying "we are not interested to know what wing one belongs, since we want the region to vote to the last man".

Mr Wa Iria said the will of the people is best expressed when as many people as possible take part in decision-making and that is why "we will be on the ground mobilising people to vote".

Elaborate plans

To that end, he announced that there were elaborate plans to ensure the sick in hospitals and homes, the disabled and those with mobility problems are hauled to polling stations.

On Friday, Murang'a Senator Irungu Kang'ata said at the Kimorori grounds in Maragua constituency that the party's agents had been told to be on high alert and coordinate with ground facilitation to ensure their supporters turn out to vote.

For his part, Mr Jamleck Kamau, Dr Kanga’ta’s opponent in the governor’s contest, announced on Saturday that Tuesday’s elections will be about defining Mt Kenya interests in the next government and as many people as possible must vote.

"Many are saying that our voter turnout will be low because we do not have one of our own contesting the presidency. That is a risky wish that we must mitigate," he said.

Dr Kang'ata said a high voter turnout in the Mt Kenya region will save Kenya the risk of a rerun, which would happen if the winner fails to garner the constitutional 50 percent plus one of votes cast.

Those in the race are Deputy President William Ruto, former premier Raila Odinga, the Roots Party’s George Luchiri Wajackoyah and David Mwaure Waihiga of the Agano Party.

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