RSS

The more things change the more they stay the same.

 

I didn’t come up with this words but somebody please somebody, Tell Enginieer Kamau that; “If intelligence and reason must prevail, it is more reasonable and intelligent to remain open and listening for the voice of God or for any other voice than to shut up the eyes and ears and not even allow that there might be voices to hear?” I read them in Machiavelli the prince
Like i have always said. Only a fool does the same thing twice expecting different results; and by the seem of things we must be doing things foolishly.
What I’m worried about is the outcome of the current public transport hype similar to a situation we witnessed 9yrs ago in the public transport sector. Our industry (matatu) has had to come through a very rough trend to finally reach where we are and thanks to millions of our faithful customers who have stuck with us either because we have helped them meet their transport needs or for lack of a better option.

For those who did not know what michuki rules meant to us in the industry, then know this. Soon after the NARC government came to power in 2003 after 24yrs of single party rule. Those who came to power were determined to transform this country and leave a legacy. Public transport was one of the areas that was targeted due to it’s direct contact with majority of Kenyans, Being a new government, the leaders were determine to win the confidence of majority. Under the disguise of bringing change in the transport sector, ending corruption, road carnage and other misgivings, the government under the ministry of Transport punched on the privately owned public service vehicles using its three main institutions previously used in fighting clime namely; The police, the Judicialy and the Prison. But what came out of the much touted change was a whole new wave of high level corruption and gross human rights violation.
A traffic cop could flag down a 51 seater bus, check the tyres: they are okay. Check insurance sticker it’s valid. Check the driver’s license and its okay, he is in uniform; but unfortunately, he forgot to hang his portrait on the windscreen of the matatu. Now that was very bad:, all the passengers had to seek other means of transport to wherever they were going because the driver would be arrested and the bus towed to the nearest police station. He would then be locked up at the police station until the following day when he will have his day in court.

Now these is where the trick was {and still is}; according to the laws that we operated under, once you are brought before the court and your charges read. The magistrate can only give you two options, it does not matter whether what you are charged with is true or not, To avoid being locked up, you have to pay a bond of between 20.000–100.000 depending on what the cop writes no the charge slip.If you can’t raise the amount you will have to spend fourteen days at Nairobi industry-area remand prison. When you return to court after those two weeks the cop who arrested you fails to show up and you get another 14 days. Eventually, the cop will not show up, the judge will release you after some months.
The next time the same cop flags your matatu down you better give him what he wants or the same fate befalls you ll over again.

With the signing to law of the new constitution and a new government, we were very upbeat about the future of our career hoping that somehow or perhaps, we could turn these most hated jobs into a respected public service profession. There was nothing mentioned about the matatu sector in the Jubilee manifesto.And according to how the cabinet secretary for transport is acting; we can say the government is very determined to kill the industry, divide and rule” they want nothing to do with Matatu madness; Jubilee is talking about standard gauge railways, trains and airports; but whichever way, they will have to work with us for the time being before the tracks are marked and railway lines laid.
Our appeal to the government is to protect us from those who abuse states power to harash and extort money from us; it is insane to force over 60.000 matatus to be fitted with specific speed governors that costs 40.000Ksh a piece only a few years after we had fitted another ‘government specified’ set of speed governors under the same circumstances. How can a  serious cabinet secretary not seek legal advice from other government institutions before passing decrees only to be faulted by the Court after we have been forced to pay some people billions of shillings.

I hope our leaders will start to seriously scrutinize and really consider the bills brought before them and see if they will be beneficial to us the citizens before passing them into law.. It was quite a shame that not even one political leader in the national assembly or even the senate had tried to correct the the transport cabinet secretary Eng. Kamau. I’m glad the judicially is not compromised.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 17, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

Tags: , , , ,

Remember THE ASS REALITY?

I guess most of the readers of this blog have heard the story of the ass **** quest to become the leader of all the parts of the body. If you haven’t, then this is how the story went:

One day all the parts that make up the body met to choose who would be the overall leader. Among those who attended and had interest in the job where the eyes, the nose, ears, the mouth and the anus. Each was asked to give the reason why they thought they were best suited for the job.

The eyes were the first to speak and said that, since they are the ones that supply the body with light and see all the good things they should be made king. The ears claimed that they had the biggest responsibility of listening out for the enemy and that the body risked being knocked down by a car if they did not hear the horn. The nose argued that, due to its position in front of the head it was most likely to smell an enemy from miles ahead and also claimed it had the biggest responsibility of supplying the body with oxygen, it should be made king.

But the mouth shot up even before the nose had finished  and said that it could do all the functions of the nose including supplying fresh air, the mouth said it has the responsibility of feeding the whole body as well as speaking on behalf of all the members, so it should be made king. The penis had not much to say but only warned the other members that they risked extinction if they did not make him king since it was his responsibility to plant the seeds.

When the ass hole took the podium to speak, all the other parts rolled in laughter, they did not even allow him to make his statement, they all shouted the ass to sit-down and leave it to the important parts to battle it out. The ass hole become so irritated that he stomped out of the meeting and sworn never to work with the other members ever again.

The first day passed well but in the morning of the second day, the body wanted to get raid of the used foods that the mouth had supplied to the body, but the ass had closed business and left. After taking lunch the body could not hold any more and checked on the ass but he had not returned. By the time that supper was prepared the body was in a very bad state, the stomach had swollen causing the legs to lose all the strength, the ears stop due to the illness, the eyes dropped they had not even enough energy to shut . On the evening of the sixth day the body collapsed and died.

The above story is a clear repress of the relationship that we, in the matatu industry have with the rest of Kenyans, and thanks to our media houses for negative reporting when it comes to matters related to the matatu industry. For many years we have been perceived as the enemy within; who everybody is supposed to hate and always be on the look out for although the said enemy is the only means of transport for the ten million beggars J M Kariuki spoke about.

But unlike the asshole in the story, we have remained faithful in our duties. Most of the corporate companies who leap billions of shillings from our industry have used the negative publicity as an excuse to withhold the percentage that should have been channeled back to  the consumers and have gone ahead to make their annual financial budget and draw profit margins while neglecting the people who sells their brands everyday.

The same attitude can be said to be shared by our honorable government.  In a recent TV interview I was doing for a TV station I asked a senior police officer, the reason there seemed to be two traffic laws, one for ordinary motorists and a special one for matatu. He told me that the laws had been made thus to try to tame the operators since the industry is a public service but the passengers belong to the state.This stand was reached at after consultation with the decisions making organ of the government and had the full backing of the state.

This just shows how our career is grossly misunderstood and yet we still remain one of the most important drivers of the economy. What now remain to be seen are the effects that we will bring to the whole country when we decide to close business like the ass hole in the story.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Matatu matters

 

Tags:

The media is not doing enough.

The recent show-off between the Nairobi county leadership and matatu operators about parking fee was  bad publicity and not belonging to the digital Kenya we are so proud to embrace. It was a let-down to most of us who come from other counties and who were not informed about the protests and had to watch from a distance; wondering what all the noise was about.

If any body had a good reason to block roads, It was the outsiders who are most affected by the new exaggerated parking fees because we also pay parking fee in our counties of origin; but since we were never involved nor made aware of any negotiation between the Sacco directors and the Nairobi governor about reducing the cost, we had gone ahead and paid the new fee and issued with the sticker and corresponding  receipts. But when the stories started coming out, anybody would have thought the matatu fraternity had all gone nuts.

The Media had a busy day keeping Kenyans updated with the events as they kept happening. There was a lot of Matatu news televised live and in all bulletins and interviews throughout out the day. I watched technocrats from the ministry of Transport, senior traffic officials from relevant departments were also invited and were seen enjoying very lively discussions on TV; while pointing fingers at the MATATU PEOPLE. That day and also the days that followed, the industry Matatu was given the kind of airplay that would drive any advertiser to bankruptcy if an invoice was to be sent.

I must acknowledge and  “give it up for” the BIG five main Television channels in Kenya { NTV; KTN, CITIZEN TV; QTV and KBC CHANNEL ONE} for their up to date reporting of accidents and the number of people dieing -every year; and- every half year; and at -any given space of time within the year. But that is too little or as they say “a drop in the ocean”. With the kind of influence and loyalty that Kenyans regard our media, They can surely do better.

Our 4th estate has failed to keep pace with the rate Kenyans are civilizing and this has created a gap that still needs to be filled, this is in the area of educating the public/ and providing alternative source of positive leadership/mentor-ship and civic education. I can’t say they have not tried. Probably the lack of influence is because of the approach they use to create road safety awareness. We have become so used to seeing the commandant of Traffic Mr Kimaru and other transport official on TV everyday on talk shows; interviews before and after-every news segment, and any other time a fatal accident happens. We have come to know them to a point that, we can now easily recognize them everywhere even in the streets and supermarkets.You meet one of them and you are..aha.. Nilikuona waaaaapi? not sure whether he is the guy who plays Shilandula comedy; but confident he is a TV personality.

As much as the intentions of our journalist with their- fine toned, refined English- are good, these very valuable time is turning out to be wasted with -empty talks- words that remains just that. All we hear every day is “WE ARE GOING TO ARREST ALL THE OFFENDERS AND TAKE THEM TO COURT” I believe it is time now for our Media guys to” speak with actions” It is traditionally known that, action do speak louder than words. Their impact on reducing deaths and casualties on our roads has not been felt in the grassroots level where the deaths are happening.

There is a lot that has been happening across the world and even locally , NGO’s and Civil society groups are crisscrossing the country, educating motorists and visiting accident victims. Civil society organizations are doing much but the sad news is that, what they are doing is not worth the airplay. probably because nobody is dead just yet}, these reports ends up in some web portal in the internet for researchers or  proposals writers who refer to them hoping to get funds from donors and well wishers.

I got into an augment with a journalist friend who works for one of the mainstream media house over the role they are playing in reducing deaths in our roads. I was of the opinion that the media is not doing enough to improve the lives of millions of viewers who are so loyal to them and will do anything they {the media people} ask them to do. My augment was that; our Media houses have become corridors of power. They have taken over the role of the official opposition to the current government because ODM has is not yet sure where they stand.

My friend warned me that any freelance journalist {like me} who has no “connections, in the main Arena” could be committing a very serious career blunder if he finds fault with the few bosses who control the big houses. She told me that whereas i would really like to find fault with them, i should not give up hope that some day they will be the ones paying my house rent. I agree with her reasoning but at the same time i must point out at the -things they haven’t done; that they should have done; to help in reducing the number of casualties as a resort of road accidents

The TV stations can be a very effective tool in training competent drivers and enlightening and adding driving skills to hundreds of motorist in the comfort of their sitting rooms. Just ask yourself, If a kid can learn how to make  paper toys-boat-plane-box etc in a single TV programme; how much can an adult learn in a 15 minutes Driving lesson- live on TV presented by a qualified driving instructor- just after the 9oclock news???????????

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 22, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

Tags: , , , ,

what you need to know before you invest in the matatu industry.

Many investors are coming to the matatu industry with the wrong attitude and it is sad to see many going back the same way they came, and again, followed by debts. Below are some facts you need to know before you venture in the matatu sector.

1} A Matatu business is an expensive investment.

imax  Most people don’t see a matatu as a rich man’s game- Many associate matatu with the crew who operates them and assume that the ineptness is a sign of cheapness. But to get an edge in this sector, you need not less than half a million Kenyan shillings. This is the list you can start with, and  will take a lot of goodwill and lots of work to start going up the ladder.

With 1/2 a million shillings, you can buy a 7–8yrs old used Toyota. Chances are always 50/50 when it comes to buying a old car; especially one that has been on the Kenyan roads as a matatu for those years. No mechanic can perfectly predict the lifespan of an old engine; Take for instance; if you want to replace the engine of a Toyota 5l. it will cost you not below 350k. Other than that, there are other equally expensive parts like gearbox, complete suspension, differential etc.

Psyco front  For those interested in the minibuses category- the capital goes up to millions of Shillings. The good thing about this class of public service vehicles is that most of them are Brand new and Most banks are will to chip in the finances up-to 70% depending on the prove of ability to pay on the side of the borrower.

A 33 seater minibus complete with seats, governor, safety belts and all the legal requirement is selling at 4.7m at general motors. A further 500k is needed for a comprehensive insurance cover and about 200k for extras- this include, Sacco registration, decorations, advanced music system, trademarks and legal fees like TLB- County Governments parking fees and others. A serious investor in this category will be required to have not less than 5.2 or in-case of financing 2m is the minimum.

2} You need much more than money to succeed.

Many would have been successful matatu investors come to the industry with”joto ya pesa”  This wrong approach of thinking they are wise; is also a ticket that has sent many the way they came if not worse. The fact that you must come up with hundreds of thousands of shilling before you become an investor {as we have seen above to venture into the industry} gives some people the false illusion that they are better off that other small players in the sector. Many make the mistake of ignoring drivers and touts; rather than regarding them as important part of the investment many view them as slaves.

I get many calls from investors and one thing they all have in common is problems with workers. Majority of matatu owners never bothered to employ workers on permanent basis; they mostly relay on casual labor which is widely available at every matatu stage across the country. Casual is cheap as it leaves no string attached, the owner has the control of the vehicle but zero hold/ responsibility on the crew. here, they reach an off record agreement based on targeted income. The problem with this settings is that, no driver will ever agree to shoulder your burden especially in matters to do with police or accidents. Your vehicle will constantly be towed-because the crew took off and left it on the road in case of  police operations, hit and runs or worse hit and run accidents.

3} You are the CEO of your investment.

familiarMany investors lose millions of shillings to fraudster and corrupt government systems that control the matatu business due to their –hands off diplomacy– toward there investments. There is a kikuyu saying that says “kindu no mwene” {only the owner can take care of his property.}

Many people who don’t go far in this sector are those who, learns about the millions laying unclaimed in the passengers transport sector and ‘without’ doing a proper research} rush to make a kill. It doesn’t take much convincing to get somebody to buy a matatu since the demand for public transport in Kenya is obvious, especially in Nairobi due to the rural urban migration we have witnessed in the last 10yrs.The unprecedented hike in fares is an indicator that the demand is going up.

The problem for this “new comers” comes when the car hits the road and the owner starts learning work related vocabularies like, police crackdown, operation, kajo, wire, breakdown, break failure, music copyright, mung’iki, kamjeshi and hundreds of other payable institutions that don’t end up in the work sheet. In an earlier article “{ http://wambururu.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/the-pros-and-cons-of-investing-in-the-matatu-industry/ } I had said that, A matatu investor should be someone who is willing to spend money -legal or otherwise- to get more money. it makes business sense and cents to hire someone to do the dirty work.

4} The make; will make or break you.DSC_0419

The type of vehicle you chose to invest in; will have a lot to do with the success or failing of your investment. There are some brands that have dominated the Kenya public transport sectors for years. Isuzu-Toyota and Nissan have the lions-share in the local market. I have personally handled the three Brands in my many years behind the wheels and each has proven it’s worth.

Isuzu has the title for the most preferred minibus in Kenya’s matatu sector. This is on one hand, because of the availability of new spare parts and reasonable prices but also, because of a long durability record as is evident on our roads. Car makers like Hyudai and Mitsubishi have tried to build cars that can meet the NKR and NQR but they are not there just yet. Even the few ROSA’s we have on our sister routes have their engines replaced with Isuzu 4.3 imports from Uganda.

In the 14 seaters category, Toyota shark is the king of the road. this car has been tested and proven to operate on any road under any weather and ideal for long distance travels. The 5L engine has the power to handle the 14 passengers load with ease and still do long hours of continued driving. the vehicles is fitted with ABS braking system, fuel efficiency and more power as compared to it’s closest competitor the Nissan QD or TD 27. which comes second in passenger transport; the Nissan is easy to maintain and has a reliable backup in terms of spare-parts. It is ideal for short distance urban routes 10–15kilometers} that has less steep hills.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Oh woman of means, why a matatu driver?

My beloved, how gracious it is to come home to you; 11 yrs have passed since you run away from home to come live with me. You were truly meant to be with me. many are the times i ask my self, what drives you? What keeps you going? why are you so loyal? I can’t understand; You drive me crazy with your almost insane affection. You remind me of the preacher’s words that ‘a wife is a gift from God.

My beloved, why did you ignore them? all your friends and family warned you about loving me. they said there was no gain in loving a matatu driver, an addict, a womanizer who lived a borrowed life, a school drop-out and a tenant whose good fortune depended on his ability to pay the bills. They thought you were out of your minds when you moved in with me and got pregnant. What did you see in a looser? They all wondered; but you were dedicated; You stood by me and turned me from a boy into a man; you allowed me space to make mistakes and learn- I’m ashamed to say that i matured under your wings.

You instil fear in my heart when i reflect on the hundreds of times i have wronged you- The crap i have done behind your back, the lies i have told you and the theories i have made you believe-oh woman of faith- You are fearfully and wonderfully made- Fearfully because you scare me with my guilt and wonderfully because you still love me after all that. My beloved, they don’t know you like i do. But they must have known you exist. though it is me they see on the streets, i am sure they must have know i have a helper. They congratulate me on being smartly dressed, arriving before time. All i can do is nod my head; ashamed to take the full credit because i know it is not my honor but yours. You call me five times before i leave the bed, the water is always running in the bathroom and coffee on the table. oh woman of courage what do you see in me?

They pat me on the back for completing my assignment on time; I only  nod my head, ashamed of the fights  and arguments we had while you were pushing me to finish my projects. why do you care so much? you sacrifice your beauty and freedom to make us a home; what a joy to see my children coming to you every evening- you are always there to receive them and ask them what they have learned. The gods must have sent you to me. but why? what did i do to deserve such a person like you? It must be that time I……..? No,, It must be because of……….? but wait , may be it is because i am…….? You see, I can’t find any reason why you are so good to me. It must be love,, yes love, they say love is blind, it must have blinded you.

My beloved, should you work so hard? i never understand you, not a bit. You left your employment to bring up our children, but you never stopped working. You wake before all of us, you sleep after all of us and you never complain. You are the maid, the gardener, the teacher, the laundry, the cook and my editor. You read everything i write {except this} before i publish it, you are my biggest fan and my worst critic. oh my beloved. daughter of man- attractive woman, beautifully adorned. You dress like a pastors wife not concerned that you are a matatu drivers wife. You have made the neighbors to hate me; they say i don’t deserve someone like you. They hate me when i stagger home at 2am in the morning; They hate me even more when they see you singing hymns at the church, while I’m nursing hangover on the sofa.

My lawyer and intercessor, how many times have you brought me food and warm cloths at police stations? how much have we spent on court fines? how many times have you visited the prison? Many times they must be; but you never give up. You have learned to speak the language and negotiate justice for me. A hard worker who have her sources of revenue, a” butter winner” who adds taste to the bread i call myself the winner. You surrendered your rest and comfort along time ago, Why can’t you not sleep like everybody else? instead you wait for me at the living room, on the sofa closer to the door so that you can hear my foot steps, Even when i change course and go out with the boys, you stay up praying for me; Praying that i don’t get into an accident, i don’t get arrested, i don’t encounter robbers on the way and i don’t get trapped by a loose woman.

Oh my beloved ,my reliever, how i laugh at Homosexuals and gays- what a miserable life they are leading. All because they never found a woman like you. you capture me with seduction, i can’t believe you still find me attractive. You dress for me, make special things just for me, You look me in the eyes and lift me to the heavens. oh my beloved, you are full of romance, You guide me through the intimate session, bit by bit showing me how to reap the full benefits and when I’m done, sweating and breathing fire, you let me collapse next to you, you wait til I’m snoring before you turn my neck and cover me. that’s when your night begins.

My beloved, let it be known to you and to all those who know i and you exist that ; Your birth was of God’s.  your works have testified that you are worth of the title WIFE. You have been a blessing to this matatu driver and his children. Your life in planet Earth has brought happiness to other souls. As lovers across the world reach out to those they dearly love, expect to hear from me. happy valentine my one and only.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

Tags: , , ,

Long walk to Recognition. matatu workers welfare.

Some times late in 2012; I helped found the first Matatu workers welfare in Rongai-l. Many people who knows the industry will agree that this was an over ambitious endeavor. A very difficult organization that was next to impossible to network. Based on the mechanism that is the Kenya Matatu sector, Representing matatu workers is more like becoming a criminal lawyer where most of the times your client is guilty. whether you win or loose the case, it leaves you with a sour taste. Nevertheless we joined hands as matatu workers in our route and Rongai matatu workers welfare was born.

We started our journey of redemption as a legally registered Civil society group campaigning for the rights of matatu workers. We had set our objectives based on the way things are ; how they have been; and most importantly our participation or the lack of it.  we had reached at a draft manifesto and established the pillars that we were to build our organization on. This  is after several workshops and meetings, over the past months where we had debated extensively and discussed solutions to some of the problems affecting us as matatu workers in general. We set out to implement our first objective which was;TO PROVIDE SAFE WORKING ENVIRONMENT FOR MATATU WORKERS.

Our research had established that, conflict with law enforcers was one of the biggest obstacles that come up from  any matatu worker we interviewed. Cases of police harassment and corruption in the prosecution system was the worst threat to any matatu worker. The negative media  the industry had been receiving had also contributed to empowering perpetrators of this corrupt crimes by painting the industry to look like an almost; outlawed trade. Working in the industry had therefore become more of a crime.

Tackling corruption in the traffic department of the police was a hard nut to crack but armed with a backing of over 200 registered members, we were willing to try. Our first step was to woo our conceived enemies and establish a partnership. The police department  was  a big tree to fell and a complicated situation where we needed to be very careful since a fall out would mean more serious harm to our members. We decided to start the campaign from the top and try to find our way down the system.

We requested a meeting with the Kenya police representative and true to their slogan “service to all” we were granted a meeting with the police spokes person at that time Mr. Erick Kiraithe. It was a very tense meeting held at police headquarters at Vigilance hse. After close to three hours of- tell all and risk everything- We came out of the meeting with a straight approval and promised full cooperation from the police. We took the battle to the officers commanding police departments in our area of operations and received endorsements, same way with district traffic officers and junior officers.After that assurance, the ball was in our court, we had agreed that the police would not use the law to victimize us but it was up-to us to follow the law, Our members had to comply with the law. They had to possess original documents as required in the traffic act.

Our next step was to iron out our differences with the vehicle owners who had now teamed up and become Sacco’s. for a long time, we had related or worked on casual arrangements or backdoor employments which were target income based settings. it was more of a car-hire deals, where drivers hire the vehicle in the morning and brings it back at an agreed time with the agreed amount. many matatu owners had benefited from this arrangements since it guaranteed fixed income at the expense and expertize of the drivers. Due to various changes and increased competition, most of this targets are hard to meet and require the drivers to use extra tactics and tricks.

To find a lasting solution, we had to sit down with the employers and  revisit our terms. we approached The matatu welfare association; through Madam Lucy Mathenge; the national treasurer who is also the Marketing executive of Orokise Sacco; the majority vehicle owners in Ongata Rongai and major employers in our route. She has been very helpful in helping many of our members gain  employment at the Sacco as drivers and conductors and also in training on behavioral change. This cooperation had helped on our second Objective which was To provide legal back-up to members in traffic related cases. Orokise Sacco provide lawyers to represent their employees and our members who have landed jobs at the Sacco enjoy those benefits.

Other than being  an activist kind-of an organization, Rongai Matatu Workers welfare had also perceived the need to build the capacity for collaboration and participation in creating and managing development programs not directly related to matatu operations. our idea was to introduce members to alternative means of generating income as a group or individuals. we came up with the idea of  starting a car-washing business where our members would bring their vehicles for the service and the income from the business to supplement our daily contributions of 50Ksh which we had been contributing to pay for our office rent and other bills. We were able to do away with the contribution and managed to keep the office and the car-wash open. We have approached the Kajiado county officers and the olekajuado county council for license to open a vehicle maintenance garage. Which we plan to start anytime funds are available.

Our other objective was to enhance transparency, equality and accountability in mobilization of resources. we approached  this objective by encouraging our members to work-out, come-up and submit to our office, individual small micro enterprises business proposals- which they felt they can run and maintain or have them run and managed by family members.We then approached two local banks who gave us a special package which has seen some members get individual loans to start M-Pesa shops, Bars and other businesses from the banking institutions or from the welfare’s savings. we have not yet been able to fund most of the proposals due to lack of enough capital but it is an on going program and we are still seeking for ways to increase revolving funds.

Rongai matatu workers welfare has been engaging and networking with other civil society organizations and government institutions. we have enjoyed a close relationship with the NHIF and NSSF officers who have helped our members to start enjoying benefits like hospital insurance cover for the worker and immediate family members and also the pension scheme. We were recently included in The  KENYA CIVIL SOCIETY FOR NON-MOTORIZED TRANSPORT AND ROAD SAFETY. A UNEP supported umbrella body that has brought together civil society groups and other institutions concerned or involved in road safety  in the republic of Kenya. we -as – a welfare; intend to use this platform to  advocate for our rights and representation of matatu workers in decision making especially those involving our industry.

We also wish to participate in trainings and educational seminars aimed at increasing skills and enlightening our members on their rights and adherence to the rule of law. we plan to integrate and share road safety awareness messages among matatu workers and our  passengers {who form a greater number of non motorized transport users: {before boarding and after alighting from our matatu’s as pedestrians} through Posters , brochures, and any means of communication that can take advantage of our social space inside and outside matatu’s body.

It has not been without challenges; keeping the organization together has not been -a walk in the park- we have seen divisions and breakaways, some members have felt that the welfare does not have the capacity to tackle their issues; especially stage touts commonly known as Kamagira and stage cartels whose job description has been outlawed by new traffic bills. As we begin another year, we are glad we tried. and we will keep the spirit.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Addiction and the chaos in the matatu sector.

When the matatu welfare association forwarded my name to NACADA for a TOT training on Alcohol and Drugs Abuse {ADA}. I felt like i was the wrong person for this training. I could not see any connection between Road safety and workers welfare which is my specification at the association and the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse{ NACADA }. If at all, I was partaking on one of the substance Nacada was campaigning against. More so, i did not think that going back to class was the best option considering the timing of the training and another meeting at KIPPRA where I represent hundreds of matatu drivers under the KENYA CIVIL SOCIETY NETWORK FOR NMT AND ROAD SAFETY. I had all the reasons to seek for an excuse not to attend the training but, I didn’t.

Come the day we were to report at the college for registration and i packed my learning gear and headed to Karen. I’m really glad i did; By the end of the week, i was so sure i know the reason we have all these chaos and mismanagement in the matatu sector. It had never occurred to me that Alcohol and Drugs could be responsible for most of the miseries workers in the public transport service sector had gone through and continue to suffer from. I listened keenly as facilitators skillfully opened our minds to the reality that addiction is causing havoc in the life’s of Kenyans,- affecting every area of our livelihood and our personal health.

I had always thought that chewing MIRAA, smoking weed and a few tots of whiskey was a cool thing and also a boost to our performance since our jobs require a lot of focus, determination and recklessness that can only be described as bordering insanity. This three substances have been the source of that courage for many a matatu driver to a curtain point that- they have become accepted as part of our lifestyle. But as i sat in that lecture room listening to expert talk about alcohol and drugs and their effects on the users, I could connect every explanation with somebody i know or have worked with in the matatu industry.

When the lecturer talked about Alcohol, i could see many alcoholics by name, the life they are leading, the consequences of their choices and the direction addiction had taken their life’s. when they talked about inhalants, i was finally able to connect the -teenage deaths- of many street children who come to collect plastic bottles from our buses with the glue they sniff. I had notice a certain pattern where many of the street kids die young or develop permanent mental illness. The issue of MIRAA chewing really surprised me and I’m still very deeply concerned about the effects of this substance that is legally available across the country with no restriction in producing, processing and sale.

Miraa {twigs} and muguka {the leaves} cause more damage to the user that marijuana  and  cigarettes combined. Like the bible writer had posed it; WHAT IS THE PROFT OF GAINING THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSING YOU SOUL IN THE PROCESS? the same is true for those abusing these products of the evergreen CATHAEDUIIS tree. Many who innocently chew on the substance  to stay alert and work more hours behind the wheels are at the same time working their way to self destruction and endangering the survival of their species.Miraa is said to have grave and irreversible effect on the reproductive system causing impotence. This alone is reason enough to break hundreds of homes as is evident in majority of users. other effects included patched up sleep that catches up with the driver while on the road resulting to serious accidents.

Matatu industry has the highest number of drug abuser in all public services sectors in our country. In my 14yrs behind the wheels i have experienced and experimented on most of this substances.many of us chew miraa to work long shifts and like i said, our job description require focus determination and confidence. Marijuana is the drug of choice for many as it gives the user a sense of well being, bravely, confidence and allow us to exhibit recklessness that is next to madness. The false confidence and false bravely mixed with other long term effect of the drug like, sudden panic, poor judgment, and paranoia [ unreasonable fear} can be associated with hundreds of accidents that goes unreported where matatu owners agree to compensate the affected party to avoid involving the police as their driver is intoxicated and also the one to blame for the accident.

Since receiving the training, i have been engaging my comrades into discussions on the effects of alcohol and drugs and to my surprise, many are those who are suffering in silence. it is extremely painful to watch a loved one or somebody you know very well destroy his/her life; but this is the position many of us are forced to take when a chemically dependent loved one or a friend denies having a problem with substances. If any, majority of us condemn the affected instead of understanding that addiction is a disease; we blame them for having a problem with morals.

Any government institution ,NGO or civil society willing to bring sanity and order on our roads especially the matatu sector must look at the issue of drug abuse as a contributing factor in the mismanagement of the trade and be willing to help and give hope to the affected. a calculated approach aimed at healing and reconciliation will go a long way in ending the chaos and confusion in the matatu sector and in the long run reduce accidents by a very big margin. Tackling the drugs and substances abuse in the matatu sector is not an easy task but that is not to say it is impossible. The reason being that majority of those using the substances are already hooked or addicted and have a long history of dependency on the drug unlike students or the youth in learning institutions. The national Government must look at the big picture and find a long term solution to this menace.

Another area that will require a closer look and more serious approach is the area of counseling for drivers who have been through tragic accidents. There are many who are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and many take to drugs and or alcohol to seek reprieve. Once hooked to drugs dependency , it becomes very hard to come out. Recovery from addiction is a long road that requires almost the same treatment as chronic diseases; this is an expensive journey that most matatu workers will never travel. Recovery from addiction can only be achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support and professional help. To accomplish this task we must stop looking at it as a problem affecting matatu workers and start looking at it as a problem affecting the society.

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 9, 2013 in ewaste, Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 352 other followers

%d bloggers like this: