Interview on the Impact of COVID-19 on transport services – Focus on Riverside Car Hire & Shuttle Services
About Riverside Car Hire & Shuttle Services Riverside Car Hire & Shuttle Services is a company headquartered in Arusha, Tanzania and has branch offices in Nairobi and Moshi. Riverside Car Hire & Shuttle Services offers transport for passengers going to/from Nairobi to Moshi Kilimanjaro via Arusha and Nairobi airports. The Bus travels via Namanga One-Stop Border Post. Mr. Moses Kingori, Managing Director, Riverside Car Hire & Shuttle Services
1. Tell us about your business?
Riverside shuttle offers transport services for passengers traveling to Kenya and Tanzania
2. How did COVID-19 affect transport & logistic sector / your business (sales & profit, employment)?
The outbreak of COVID-19 in March 2020, necessitate us to close our business as the borders posts were closed. Our staff workers had to go on leave until when we re-opened back in October 2021.
3. What COVID-19 measures were instituted?
The Government instituted stringent COVID-19 measures and standard operating procedures for passenger transport between Kenya and Tanzania, in particular the COVID-19 testing charge of USD.100 for passengers.
4. What was the impact of these COVID-19 measures on your business?
When re-opened in October 2021, the number of passengers dropped from 22 passengers per bus to 5-10 passengers due to the high cost of COVID-19 test requirement & charge of USD.100. Our Profit declined by 85% and this led us to retrench our workers some had to go on leave without pay.
5. How has Covid-19 forced you to repurpose /re-adjust your operations?
We implement the Standard Operating Procedures such as social distancing and wearing of masks for passengers in our buses. Due to the low number of passengers, we had to increase the cost of passenger tickets to Tsh.50,000 from Tsh.30,000.
6. What incentives have the Government offered to support the recovery and resilience of transport & logistic?
Following strong advocacy by the East African Business Council and transport stakeholders, the cost for COVID-19 testing was reduced to USD.50. Earlier, this year 2022, the Governments of the EAC Partner States in particular Kenya and Tanzania have agreed to waive off the COVID-19 testing of USD. 50 for fully vaccinated passengers. This has enabled us to reduce the cost of passenger tickets to Tsh.40,000.
7. What is the state of the passenger transport business in the EAC?
Currently, passenger transport business resumed but is not yet back to normal levels, in comparison to pre-COVID-19 period. Prior to COVID-19, we used to operate two (2) shuttles from Nairobi-Arusha per da, but until now we only operate one (1) this is because the EAC economic sectors have been negatively impacted by COVID-19, especially the tourism sector. Our main passengers are tourists from Kenya and Tanzania transiting via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
8. What are your recommendations to the Governments of the EAC Partner States to support the transport & logistics sector in the EAC?
Governments of the EAC Partner should eliminate all tariffs and Non Tariff Barriers at the borders to support business recovery and growth amid COVDi-19. In particular, a bus entry permit into another EAC Partner State is charged in dollars and is valid for one (1) entry only or thirty (30) day stay. Governments of the EAC Partner States should harmonize the entry permits & fees and make the permit valid for 30 entries for a bus to support the recovery and resilience of our business amid COVID-19.
This article was developed by the East African Business Council under the EABC- TMEA Safe Trade Project to build awareness of the impact of COVID-19 and recovery strategies for businesses in the EAC, through robust media advocacy.
About TMEA Safe Trade Emergency Facility
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) created a USD. 32 million Safe Trade Emergency Facilit (STEF) to support governments to undertake critical measures along the transport and trade routes that will ensure trade continues safely while protecting livelihoods. The Safe Trade Emergency Facility components are:
- Making the ports, borders and critical supply chains safe for trade
- Ensuring food security and access to critically required medicines
- Supporting measures that reduce jobs losses and support exports
About EABC TMEA Safe Trade Project
The East African Business Council (EABC)-TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Safe Trade Project aims to reduce barriers to trade in the East African Community through:
- Strengthening trade data tracking and analysis & rapid impact assessments on COVID-19 on businesses
- Private sector consultations and development of proposals for Public-Private Dialogue.
- Advocacy through media to build awareness of the impact of COVID-19 and recovery strategies for businesses in the EAC, through robust media advocacy.