Mauvoo News acting on a tip-off did an investigative story on the violation of Covid-19 protocols and guidelines in Machakos town and its environs. Despite the rising cases in the County which are now more than 1000, locals seem to have thrown the guidelines to the wind.
Matatu and Marutis violation
We board a Matatu from Nairobi CBD, there is adherence to the Covid-19 guidelines especially on the sitting spaces. However, there are no hand sanitizers in sight and some of the travellers sanitize using their own pocket sanitizers. On the Way to Machakos, we note proper adherence to the guidelines on social distancing in Matatus.
We arrive in Machakos 2 hours ahead of the 9 pm curfew. It is rush hour and our attention is caught by the fact that almost all Matatus are carrying passengers normally without adhering to social distancing. The same applies to Marutis, one of the conductors who spoke to us on conditon of anonymoty says during that time there are no police roadblocks hence they can manage to get away with it.
We ask them what about the health of their passengers which they are risking by carrying excess passengers and they dismiss it saying, “Hii ugonjwa ni ya Nairobi, tumezoea huku….hii masaa tunabeba hivo. Yule hataki akae.”
We ask the passengers why instead of boarding the next vehicle they opt to risk their lives but seemingly ashamed we get no answer for that. Matatu after Matatu they all carry excess passengers despite the routes, Some to Wote, Kangundo, Masii, and Tawa.
Touting and Food Hawking
According to Matatu Owners Association Lower Eastern Region Chairman Stephen Mutuku Peter who spoke to the press after the lifting of Nairobi lockdown, the Chairman warned that touting will not be allowed in bus parks. This seems to have been ignored as touts are still present and literally forcing passengers to vehicles despite social distancing directives. Food hawkers some with and without masks are still mingling with passengers in the vehicles.
Near the entrance of Machakos Bus parks, we find food being sold on the streets from Cow’s head, Chapatis, chips, fish etc. At the table selling the local delicacy “Mutwe wa ngo’mbe” close to ten people are crowded there all being served at a go with disregard to Covid-19 regulations on social distancing.
Violation in Livestock Market days
Livestock market days in Machakos County were recently reopened by Machakos Governor Dr. Alfred Mutua. We note no handwashing facilities are present in the market and social distancing is breached. This is despite those traders moving to different markets in and out of the County.
General laxity in observing guidelines
In the over 6 markets including Sokoni which we visited, Masks are rarely being worn and most people are hanging them on the chins despite the frequent interactions happening. Some of the vegetable sellers have handwashing facilities for their clients but the buyers are not making use of them. Cash payment seems to be the only way.
With Covid-19 cases being reported in Matungulu, Mwala and other rural areas of Machakos that were not initially epicenters, more cases are expected especially if the guidelines by the County and the National Government continue to be breached.