You might have seen Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe lecturing Kenyans on their attitude towards social distancing in the context of the COVID-19 p******c.
By all means, he is entitled to do just that since he is mandated to ensure that Kenya is a healthy, productive and globally competitive nation but the problem emerges when government officers read from different scripts.
Factor this, on one hand, Kagwe is telling Kenyans to ensure that they keep their social distance at all times but Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia cannot fathom the scenario of airlines making losses and says there will be no social distancing on planes when flights resume on August 1.
Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday, Macharia stated that the government has no option but to allow airlines to carry passengers at full capacity since anything below 75% reeks of loss making for the carriers.
“But these passengers must go with COVID-19 free certificate. I would expect that if you are flying out, it would be prudent for you to be tested because you may not be allowed into other countries,” said Macharia.
In the same event, Macharia announced that Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) services are set to resume on Monday, July 30 but in this instance, coaches shall carry passengers at half capacity. This means that fare prices might rise from Ksh1,000 for economy class and Ksh3,000 for first class passengers travelling between Nairobi and Mombasa.
“Kenya Railways shall deploy 10 coaches for passengers with a total one-way capacity of 600 passengers (or 50 percent of capacity), and one additional coach that shall be used to isolate passengers suspected to be infected with COVID-19,” said Mr Macharia.
Still in the transport sector, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) has in the past week said domestic carriers will not be compelled to observe social distance by keeping some seats empty when domestic flights resume on July 15.
KCAA Director General Gilbert Kibe said flying with the middle row seats empty will be unsustainable as some airlines will be forced to increase ticket prices which will lock out hundreds of passengers.
“I can say that airlines in Kenya will be allowed to operate in such a way that they will be able to remain sustainable. Keeping seats in the middle row empty is unsustainable,” Kibe told a local publication last week.
Since COVID-19 broke out in the country, Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) have been operating with half passenger capacity which now leads to the double standards question.
It is true that the aviation sector is on its knees but does that mean that it should be treated differently when public health guidelines are being observed.
What will PSV players make of the double standards, would they be out of order if they protested against Macharia’s directives.
Finally, what are Kenyans supposed to interpret when the government is preaching water and drinking wine?
Like one journalist observed, Mr. Macharia is consistently inconsistent.