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Schools Increase Transport Charges

Schools across the country have increased transport fees by up to 70 percent as schools seek to cover the extra costs of complying with the COVID-19 regulations that the Ministry of Health provided.

The institutions are related to changes in higher fuel prices and costs of maintenance because of additional trips made by school buses that can now only carry learners at half-capacity. The half capacity regulations were set in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to facilitate social distancing.

Some schools have chosen to hire more vehicles to cover the small capacity that their current modes of transport are not able to cover due to the COVID-19 regulations. The additional costs are being passed on to learners and eventually to guardians and parents.

“The school is charging Sh. 9,000 for transporting my child. This is an additional Sh. 4,000 on what we used to pay for a five-kilometer radius,” a parent from Sukari Presbyterian Academy in Kiambu County when speaking to Business Daily reporter.

At St. Hannah’s Preparatory located at Ngong Road, transport charges have also risen by 33 percent to Sh. 16,000 from the previous Sh. 12,000 before the government closed schools shut down in March to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The situation is also the same at Mirema School off Nairobi-Thika Highway where transport charges have increased by almost 60 percent to Sh. 8,255 from the previous amount of Sh. 5,200 for a distance of just four kilometers.

Some parents and guardians, hit by the sharp increase in transport charges have resorted to using private means, including taxis and using their personal vehicles.

“My employer reduces my salary last year and the rise in transport charges is another problem. I have decided to be dropping my child at school in the morning and get a private car to pick him in at the end of his lessons. I feel this will be cheaper for me,” said one parent to the institution.

There are still many schools that are doing the same and this has and will keep stressing them financially.

By Friday 9th of January, 2021, the country had reported 97,733 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 1,702 fatalities with schools reopening with the social distancing restrictions in place.

Kenya Private Schools Association (KPSA) chairperson Mutheu Kasanga said that schools have been imploring the Ministry of Education to reconsider the directive that school buses carry half-capacity.

“Our argument is that school buses, unlike matatus, are disinfected more frequently and make only two trips every day and therefore have minimal contamination,” said one Atieno, a parent in Nyanza.

Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia told a stakeholders meeting on Wednesday that a final decision on the directive to school buses shall be communicated in the coming days.

The consultative meetings to discuss protocols for school buses involve representatives from the Ministries of Education, Transport, and Health.

The safety protocols at the moment require all learners to wear face-masks while onboard vehicles and maintain social distancing.

The institutions are required to comply with the Legal Notice of April 6, 2020, which licenses vehicles to carry not more than half their capacity.

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