The national government has started distributing 9,000 free facemasks to the low-income earners and the underprivileged citizens within Garissa town.
Speaking on Wednesday, May 6, when he issued 400 face masks to boda boda riders operating in Garissa town, County Commissioner Meru Mwangi said that the government remains committed to ensuring that it limits the spread of the highly-infectious coronavirus disease among Kenyans.
Mwangi said that bodaboda is an important sector and that is why the government is concerned about the riders and their passengers’ safety.
He called on the boda boda sector to adhere to government guidelines of carrying one passenger at a time to avoid spreading Covid-19.
The county commissioner stressed the need for the riders and their passengers to wear masks and not just when they spot police officers or approach roadblocks.
“There are those who hurriedly put on facemasks when they spot police officers or when approaching the Tana bridge police barrier. You put on the facemask for your own safety and not to evade police arrest,” Mwangi said.
“This disease is real and is killing hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It is with us and we should be vigilant to avoid contracting the virus,” he added.
The masks were also issued to flood victims camping at Young Muslim area in Garissa town.
Mwangi said that each of the county's six sub-counties, namely Ijara, Hulugho, Fafi, Dadaab, Lagdera and Balambala, will receive 1,000 masks each.
The administrator urged Garissa residents to follow guidelines provided by the Ministry of Health which includes washing hands with soap and running water and observing social distancing.
He said that although no cases have been reported in Garissa County, the residents should remain alert because neighbouring Wajir reported five cases on Tuesday.
Garissa town boda boda rider’s association chairman, Maxwell Onyango, thanked the government for recognizing the important role the sector is playing and the risks they are faced with in the midst of the Corona virus threat face.
Onyango said that the directive that they provide facemasks to their customers is unrealistic and thus the government should insist that all Kenyan must own facemasks.
“If you issue each customer with a facemask which costs Sh50 and you charge him or her Sh50, then it’s as if you are giving them free rides,” Onyango said.
He said that the 400 masks they received were not enough given that there are over 3,000 boda boda riders in Garissa town alone. The riders also received sanitizers.