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Frequently asked questions on matatu investment 2015.

1. >I saw your blog post on matatu business and you mentioned that you were setting up a transport management company. I would like to know if you have achieved this and if so if you have more information for investors?

We are in the final process of registering the transport management company; we have identified most of the challenges facing investors and we have come up with the strategy to address those issues. We are currently working with other saccos within Rongai route as unit managers, we are targeting to meet the recommended 30 units to get a license from the NTSA. So far we have managed to get 14 vehicles which we have fitted with a fleet management system/ GPS tracking and Cashless system. We pay between 3000 and 3500 for a 14 seater van and between 8 and 9000 for a minibus provided it meets the requirement for the current market. email us for more information. guidancetravel@yahoo.com or call James- 0704 606730

2. >Thanx Wambururu for the good work you are doing and the responses you give. Am gonna be direct on this. I am set to join the matatu industry, i have a good manager who i believe will take my business forward . My manager has told me that we should focus on acquiring an ex tour vehicle, probably a DT Dobie Urvan. I have identified several on OLX , but my question is, How do i ensure that the vehicle is in a good mechanical position as the owners claim, what sort of inspection can i subject it to make sure that the engine, chasis and the body are in a good condition?
It is very tricky to get TLB for a 14 seater especially if the vehicle you plan to use has never been a matatu before- EX Tours are thought to be better but that is not a guarantee that they are always in good condition. Furthermore the choice of the make {Nissan /toyota} is very important and differs for different routes. Nissan is better and more efficient for short distance- town service routes while as a Toyota is best for long distance and hills. You need a good mechanic who is specialized in the model you wish to buy and follow his advice. A recently government -inspected van is an advantage.
3. >I have 2M .My home is in Ngong.I have been working outside country as a Mechanic and I am returning home.I can get financier and buy a 33 seater minibus I want the matatu to operate on route 111 or Kiserian route so that I can easily monitor it. I am mechanic and I can manage the repairs myself in my home. Kindly advice on whether my dreams are valid and the challenges I might face, and whether its advice able to take the risk.

You seem like a person who is set for matatu business and I would really encourage you to follow your dreams of owning a matatu or probably a fleet in future- You already have about 2million, a financer and a destined Sacco which is route 111 Ngong—Nairobi.
You also happen to be a skilled mechanic which is necessary and will reduce the maintenance cost; what you need is a crew especially the driver who understands the business and can safely take good care of your vehicles.
You also need a join a Sacco that has a fleet management system- GPS tracking and a cashless system. That way, you will be able to monitor your vehicle- know how many kilometers/ trips it has made- driving behaviors of different drivers etc.
4. >Hi Wambururu, am Kamau and much interested in owning a second hand matatu soon. I want to join a sacco whereby i would be saving 20,000 per month. In 7 months time i will have 140,000 then i would like to take a loan 5 times of my savings for me to have 700,000 to buy a second hand matatu. Now my question is does your matatu sacco offer such kind of services if not can you advice or refer me to any other matatu sacco.
Thanks in advance
Ours is a transport management limited company- we are registered under the registrar of companies act. However I work closely with matatu Sacco’s in Kajiado- Rongai Kiseria and Ngong; I know of one Sacco in particular that has been lending capital to drivers to buy their own vans as long as they remain with the Sacco. You need to first register for membership @ 5000 and then you start saving; they normally give 3 times your savings but I’m sure they can be very helpful in a situation like yours.

5. >I have been a good fan of your blogs. I would like to inquire about investing in the matatu business.
Is it possible for me to start with 00.ksh.. I mean, can I get a loan with the matatu as the security?
Thanks

Nothing is impossible though some things are said to be next to impossible; most banks will not finance a matatu no matter how much you are willing to deposit. Different banks and financial institutions offer different packages on asset finance. The best way to get the facts is to talk to loan managers. I have seen adverts from Equity bank where they claim to finance up to 105%. One thing I know is that you need at least a six months bank statement and in case of financing a matatu, you need to have a very active business account or another matatu already on the road.

6. > Hi,your blog is really helping. Anyway I’m thinking on acquiring 2 brand new 33seater Isuzu from GM and put them through githurai 45 route.
Will the returns be good?
How are the saccos over there?
Please advice
Minibuses are taking over the matatu business though they have to face a stiff competition from the larger capacity buses. Githurai is popular with 51 seater buses and since they are in large supply, they easily handle the flow of passengers to a manageable level which strikes a balance between the price, demand and supply. Since matatu business is a trade like most businesses; where the law of demand and supply applies Githurai route does not offer the best investment opportunity. However tides are changing and passengers are shifting to vehicles with fewer capacity which are quick to fill and more comfortable.

7. >I have been reading these article and comments and just trying to make sense out of everything, what i would like to know is what to include in a proposal for getting a loan from an investor ,i know most of these comments are a bit out of date and probably the market has shifted a bit ,kindly can you advice on these matter as i am interested in getting my claws in these business .thank you for your consideration.
I have tried to cover this in question 5 above; nonetheless, I have to agree with you that the comments are a bit back dated but not much has changed on the ground. You will need to talk with your bank manager and see what they are offering then compare with what Sacco’s are giving.
8. >Thank you for your article, I invested in second hand a 51 seater bus being financed by my sacco but upto date i have not made any profit from it,it have consumed all my money but am optimistic ill make it..my Sacco have been very supportive, they want to restructure the loan n be paying small installment, my question is?
1. my current job is not paying well and am not permanently employed, can i leave it and be going with the bus..am convinced i can get 8k per day.
2. Whats your take on repayment procedure.
You have not said how long you have had the bus and again which route you operate; this is very important and I believe it has a lot to do with your current situation. it is advisable to always keep the supply line open I.E. quitting your job might not be the smartest thing to do for now. There is a reason why your bus is not doing well/ making any profit- this may result from mechanical condition of the bus- crew- or even Sacco management among other factors. I would recommend you get a person you can trust to work with your bus and identify the cause of the problems.
If I got your second question correct- you want to know my take on the repayment procedure- I don’t know how much you owe the Sacco or whether you are paying a fixed interest or in a reducing balance basis. You can email me more details.. Wambururu@gmail.com.

9. > Hi Wambururu, thanks for the great information you are providing on your blog regarding investing in the Matatu industry. I’m 22 yrs managing my own food delivery business in Nairobi, i was a rongai resident before i moved to South c,i save 4500 per day and i want to venture into the 33 seater matatu business by the end of the year. is it possible to approach a bank and what r the requirements..
Congratulation for the good work you are doing and a profitable venture indeed. You have an upper hand in getting financing from most banks if you are operating a business account. With your savings which I would estimate to be over 120,000 per month, you only need a six months bank statement- a deposit of 969.000 Kes, call this number for more info- 0722 140 378 Yvonne Mengo- sales team leader ACMG authorized ISUZU Dealer for GMEA.

10. >I have developed great interest for the matatu industry. And from the previous advise you’ve given other people I have decided to buy a second hand 33 seated instead of taking a loan. My route of interest is githurai 45 and I would like you to manage it for me. How much should I expect per day?
I’m not familiar with Githurai route; so, I can’t promise you how much I can raise in a day and also the condition of the second hand 33 seater minibus. If we estimate that you will get the vehicle at around 1.8M, I can approximate the same to bring home between 5—6,000Kes. This might not be the actual figures, like I said earlier; it will depended on the condition of the bus. Instead of a second hand minibus, I would recommend you buy two 14 seaters approximately 1.6m. They will each give you a minimum of 3500 Kes Daily that is 7000 per day.
11. >. I live in Kisumu and My most burning question is how much does a brand new 33 seater cost visa vis a second hand. I have 1.2M and am spoilt for choices to go for either a 33 seater or 14 seater, that is if am able to acquire the loan from NIC bank.
Secondly, am thinking of kisumu – busia rout (400/= one way, about 120km apart). Please show me some real (not ideal) calculations so as not to raise my hopes so high on profit margins.

Price for NQR 33 seater brand new and payment plan is as follows. The selling price for a 33 seater Isuzu NQR is ksh4,827,000.You are required to pay a deposit of ksh.968,400.The bank finance upto 80% at 8.7 flat rate. The monthly installment is ksh.135,265 for 3years.So the total interest adds up to ksh.1,007,000.
See 16 and 17 below for an actual {not Ideal} breakdown.

12. >Thanks a lot for such informative n educative thread….am planning to venture on matatu business but second hand.
Kindly advice the best matatu, Nissan to buy coz i hear kuna Toyota caravan n shark..And others..Which is best…all in all what one has to check to find if the matatu is good..coz i hear my friend bought one but after had an issue with number plate with kra.
There are two models of 14 seaters that are currently in the market and have been approved by the governing Authority. The Toyota 5Litre engine, diesel and Nissan caravan. Toyota 5L model is the most common even though it is no longer registered. The last of its type was manufactured in 2003 and that is over ten years ago. Our laws on importation of used vehicles limits up to ten years. This model is now replaced by a more modernized Toyota 7L Diesel: and custom made Nissan {box}.
As for issues to do with proof of ownership; you should first do a check/search at NTSA/ KRA- if you have any doubts, don’t buy.
13. >Hi Wambururu! I hve 1m cash and am interested in owning a 33 seater Minibus can i get a finance option frm a bank, which is the best Bank or institution ? Pliz advise.
Yes it is possible to get finance from banks as long as you can assure them that you are able to pay back the loan and also if you can afford the deposit. Most banks finance up to 70%. The tricky part is that you have to have operated a business account for minimum of six months showing deposits equivalent to the monthly installments. What I mean is; for a bank to give you a loan to buy a public service vehicle, you need to have an alternative income that can continue paying the loans in case the matatu breaks down.
14. >Thanks 4 wonderful teaching God bless u.my question it is a good idea to buy 14 seater Toyota second hand about 250k to 300k replace with new egn + gearbox so that i can be on safe side in terms maintenance and how much do i need plz?
A new 5l engine for Toyota shark costs around 350,000 and the gear box costs about 50,000 – 60,000.If you were to give it a fresh coat of paint and probably some interior work, seats covers.\, belts, music system etc, you will need about 60—80,000. In total you will require approximately half a million shillings. Add this to the purchasing price and you end up spending about 850,000 KES.
15. >Hi Wambururu,
I really like your honest and informative answers.I would like to know how much (minimum] one may need to go for a loan for a 33 seater mini bus and where to start, is it GM or a particular Sacco or bank?
If I am new in Matatu business and i want to learn is it advisable to start with a second hand 14 seater or a 33 seater on financing?
For your first question on cost of a 33 seater, see answer for question {11} above.
And again i think you should start low. What I mean is, start with a 14 seater, run it for six months or so and understand the business, then you can decide whether you wish to invest in a 33 seater.

16. >I’m interested in investing in transport business. Toyota 5L used is my target, currently I can raise about 800k. My concern is, First I’m out of the country for a period of time and the management of this venture is dreadful to say the least. Second, my view is a long term investment by ploughing back the proceeds into the venture.. At certain point you mentioned about registering a venture to manage this profitable but highly risk business. Now in the view of these circumstances, what assurance do I have from you personally as a manager and confidant regarding safeguarding my interest..
It might appear like a high risk business but it is not such. Matatu investment is a public service provision business that has very good returns. Below is monthly review for a 14 seater.
JANUARY 2015
KAY —–X. ———————————— 14 SEATER

REG.NO.
  1st   2nd   3nd     4th         5th         6th          7th           TOTAL

3500   3500   3500   3500     3000     ——        2000         19.000
  8th    9th    10th    11th      12th        13th      14th
  3500   3500  3500   3000     3500       3300   3000         23.300
15th   16th   17th    18th      19th        20th      21st
1000   3500   3300   3500   3300       3500      2000        19.900
22nd   23nd   24th   25th     26th       27th       28th
    3500   3500   1000   3500   2500   3200      3000        20.200
29th   30th   31st.
….  2900    3500                                                          6 .400
TOTAL = 88.800
EXPENSES.
FULL SERVICE. {OIL/FILTER/PADS/ DIESEL FILTER/ ELEMENTS/ GREASE.}= 5.300
ALIGNMENT.= 1200                                REAF SPRING.=1500
BUSHES.=600                                       LABOR.=1500
NEW MID-RANGE SPEAKER.= 3500      INSURANCE.= 7800
WELDING REPAIR. = 1000                    WIRE/ COMPENSATION = 4000
PARKING KAJIADO.= 1500                    NOZZLES SERVICE .= 3000
PARKING NRB.= 3600

TOTAL .= 32.500.00
GROSS INCOME .= 88.800.00
LESS EXPENSES= 32.500.00
NET INCOME= 56.300.00.
As your manager, I will be sending you a bank slip for the net income and also give you the breakdown. Alternatively, we can agree I be depositing a flat rate of 50.000 kes per month and take care of maintenance and all expenses, insurance parking, servicing and replacing minor parts.
17. >Thank you But is it a guarantee that they can pay up the loan on themselves because I have seen banks repossessing some of these buses and that might be a problem.. And on another note, is it advisable to take two 37 seater buses or put a deposit on a bigger bus and which Company/sacco would you advice..
Buses have high capacity and yes it is true they carry more passengers; but in matatu business especially short distance routes, they don’t attract more customers-pasengers still prefer low capacity vehicles that fill easily and are faster. Fare price also differs and by large margins.
A 51 seater bus plying nrb Rongai routes make four return trips in a day at an average fare price of 40 kes.{ 50 passengers X 40 Kes X 4 trips X 2 {return}= 16,000 Kes.
Fuel is = 4500-5000. Sacco contribution + police, touts, etc= 2,000, salaries= 3,000. Net income is about 6,000.
A 33 seater{ MANYANGA} minibus does 7 return trips at an average of 60 kes, ={ 32 passengers X 60 kes X 7 trips X 2 {return}= 26880.
Fuel is= 6,500—7,000. Sacco contribution+ police and normal expences = 4000. Salaries= 4000. Net income is between 10—11000Kes.

18. >Pls am from Ghana and i want to start a matatau transport business in Kenya. Pls i want to know if it is possible for a non Kenya can invest in the business. And how much is the Kenya shillings to one US DOLLAR. Thank u
I don’t think it would be a problem to invest { although I’m not sure about what the law says; but I know some foreigners who have bought rental houses and public service buses; as long as you are not the driver- you can surely invest in the industry and get your money at you bank just like anyother investor. One US Dollar is exchanging @ 90 KES. To put a brand new 33 seater minibus that meets the current market on the road, you will require about 59.000 US Dollars.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

 

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Let us make laws that we can implement and sustain.

Kenya is still ranked as a third world country. As much as We {Kenyans} don’t love or feel comfortable being referred as a 3nd world, we cannot escape this classification since it is not based on what we would wish’ but what we have done compared to other nations of the earth.
We may be building standard gauge railways and probably subways are on the way, Its true, these infrastructures will indeed; push us forward toward escaping the ratings, ease how we travel and communicate and make our country more attractive to other developed nations. But as it stands today we are still a 3nd world.
Our president is leading from the front and we all admire his confidence, we are encouraged by his determination to get us out of the woods, not only for us Kenyans but for Africa as a whole. His call for African solution for Africa’s problems is a pointer to finding lasting solutions to local problems in the continent and even here at home.
Since the Jubilee government come to power, law makers have been very busy making and amending laws. Almost every law in the constitution has been challenged, amended or changed; Media freedom, security, bills of rights, and” of course”  “Traffic act.”
I was among the invited participants to a discussion on the proposed amendments to section 42 of the traffic act {cap 403} this is an act of our traffic laws that deals with safety of children. The bill was tabled in parliament by honorable Member of Parliament for Laisami Joseph Kuton. The bill which is in its third reading in parliament and {according to Hon. Kuton} it will soon be passed to law if the president is okay with it.
The forum was organized by Kenya Alliance for Residents Association {KARA}; National Transport and Safety Authority {NTSA} and Columbia University center for urban Development Among other institutions. The speakers included the deputy Director of safety at NTSA Dr. Duncan kibogong; Institute of legislative affairs CEO Vincent Kimosop, center for sustainable urban development; Dr Jackie Kropp, the sponsor of the bill Hon. Joseph kuton and Kara director Dr. Henry … among others.
The amendments to this act seek to improve children’s safety within the boundaries of their learning institutions, and while on transit to and from schools and non school related activities. Majority of those in-attendances were very objective that this is the way to go. “When we were each asked what our individual expectations were, almost everyone including the media which was well represented was optimistic the bill should go through. On the other hand, I was a bit pessimistic.
I’ve heard it is said that; the devil is in the details.
Section 42 of the Traffic Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Principal Act”) is to be amended by inserting the following new subsections immediately after subsection (3)-

*(3A) A person shall not drive, or, being the owner or person in charge of a vehicle, cause or permit any other person to drive, any vehicle at a speed exceeding thirty kilometres per hour on any road within the boundaries of-
(a) A nursery, primary or secondary school;
(b) An institution where -children reside or normally access by children;
(c) A public playing ground which is normally accessed by children;
(d) An area used by children when crossing to and from school; or
(e) Any health facility.
A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of 50.000 KES or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 months or both.

I don’t have a problem with the speed limit; what I fail to understand is why? The act only prescribes a penalty or punishment to drivers and not to the Authorities responsible for ensuring that all the supporting infrastructures are in place before the law takes effect?

For instance; the act mandates the highway Authority to; erect and maintain traffic signs as prescribed in the Act so as plainly to indicate to drivers entering or leaving such roads or areas referred to under subsection (3A) where the thirty kilometers per hour speed limit restriction begins and ends;
They are also responsible for; electing, constructing and maintaining speed limiting road design features such as speed bumps or rumble strips, and traffic circles on the roads referred to under subsection (3A) at the areas specifically designated for pedestrian crossing or on any road within a built up area or any section of a road where forward visibility is short.
The highway authority should also Ensure that; traffic routes in the vicinity of nursery, primary or secondary schools and those giving access to the schools are planned, designed, equipped and maintained with safety features such as wide pavements, footpaths, cycle-tracks, roadside barriers, pedestrian crossings and underpasses and footbridges with appropriate signs and markings.

The absence of any of the above infrastructures can lead to violation of the act. I believe the highway authority or NTSA for that matter should also be held responsible and charged in court if an accident occurs or even when the said law is violated where they have not complied.

The other proposed amendment to the Traffic act is in section 1058.
(1) A person or institution shall not designate or use a vehicle for transporting children to and from school or school or non-school related activity unless the vehicle meets the prescribed standards. It gives the Cabinet secretary the overall responsibility of setting the prescribed standards
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (l), a vehicle designated for transporting children To or from school or for any non-school related activity when they are in a group shall be fitted with the prescribed child safety equipments! Design safety features or structures.
A person who, carries or permits another person to carry a child under the age of eight years, on board a vehicle shall ensure that-
(a) The vehicle is fitted with the prescribed child restraint device or Seat; and
(b) The child is always placed in the device or seat whenever on board a vehicle in accordance with the prescribed instructions or guidelines.
A person who being the owner, manager, teacher of a school or a driver of a used for vehicle transporting children, who authorizes or permits the use of a vehicle used for transporting children or is negligent to prevent contravention with this Act commits an offense and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or imprisoned for a term not exceeding two months or both.

This are the set of laws that every parent would wish to see passed; but as they say. Wishes are not horses, if they were, every beggar would own one.

If the proposed amendments goes through and become law, it will be illegal for a matatu to transport children. students are not among the matatu investors target group and  don’t think any investor will do anything about meeting the requirements or standards. And since Matatus do not meet the prescribed standards i.e. they don’t have child restraints or seats for children, it will be illegal to carry them.

What we need to first ask ourselves is; why do school going children use unsafe transport/ matatus in the first place?

In my observation as a matatu driver, majority of the school going children who go to school via public transport are those from free public schools. Quite a number of those are from the poor families who take advantage of free education and probably because those schools are quite a distance from home, the children must need transport. Most of these public schools don’t provide transport and that is where we as the matatu fraternity come in.
Matatus are probably the only affordable means/ option for majority of people in Kenya to travel long and short distances. This also includes the school going children who need to board Matatus to and fro school. We are the ones Head teachers call upon to provide transport to students during curriculum related activities like drama festivals, school trips, etc. and since the education ministry has not come up with alternative means of transport to meet this need, Matatus are left with the responsibility of providing the much needed services.
Kenya is a developing country which means, it does not have all the infrastructures or the means to sustain and fully implement this laws.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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What are the Barriers to success; for most matatu workers?

2015 is a new year for everybody and this is one good thing we all have in common. There are those who are happy to turn a new leaf because it means more to them most probably as a reflection of their lengthily experience in their jobs or field. There are still others who are wishing they could tamper with the hands of time and slow the pace. those that are worried about their future.

When I was a teenager, there was nothing I wanted more than to grow up;-grow big and become independent. I was looking up to becoming my own self; not dependent on anybody. And sooner, I turned twenty and got the independence I so much yearned for; That was twenty years ago. On January 12 2015 I will be turning forty} Yes, 40yrs in planet earth. They say life begins at this age and I am surely looking forward to begin life. I guess I have been living too much and need to begin life.

I have a very good feeling about turning this page and beginning a new chapter. The time has come for me to give back, share what I have learned in the past 39yrs, A time to take full responsibility to right the wrongs; I have seen it all and done most of it. I know what is beneficial and what isn’t. looking back , I can honestly say I have no regrets. What had to be has already been. Now this is a new beginning, it is not starting all over but rather choosing which way forward.

I am a vivid reader of biographies and personal journals; stories about how humble people who were probably the least in the society managed to raise to the top of the world. I know how Sherlock homes was founded; how Bill Gates built Microsoft; how Kalashnikov invented the AK47; Ted Turner and CNN     among other great men and women.

One thing has bothered me over the years, and Today I want us to look at what it is; that the majority of us don’t do; and the reason we don’t do that; which can make the difference in our lives.

When I joined the transport industry fifteen years ago, there were those I found already fully established in the sector. Those who lived the life I envied; they talked the talk and walked the walk. They seemed to have all I was dreaming of; they drove the newest Matatus, dressed in the latest fashion and dated the prettiest women.  They stayed in self-contained houses and ate with silver spoons indeed.

Ten years down the line, the same guys are peasants, much older men with more grey hair; they hang around the bus stops looking for squads. They can be generally described as living on hand-outs. Nobody gives them much attention anymore. What went wrong?

I shared my thoughts about this issue with some of my close friends also matatu workers like me. I sort their views on the matter.

We had a very lively discussion, which ended up harming our pockets deeper than we could have budgeted for. It was during the weekend and we were seated in a pub. The topic was; Why would a man spend 20yrs of his most productive years providing service to the public and end-up living on handouts?

Jeff a conductor was convinced that the problem lies with the Industry itself and how it is run. He said that despite workers putting all their skills in performing the tasks; the employer denies them all the benefits that other service providers enjoy. Benefits like Medical cover; employment contracts; pension contributions among others, this leaves the worker with nothing to show for his contribution at the end. I could see the point he was driving at; most investor don’t really care about their employees; their main concern is the money this people makes for them. That was one reason- but I was not fully convinced. I turned to the next person.

Elijah A fellow Matatu driver blamed individuals {workers} for failing to move-on. He said that many employees get satisfied with little and draw their budgets according to the little income. To them, paying house rent and school fee plus providing three meals is all it takes. They fail to see the importance of investing in property. Since the industry does not provide the securities as Jeff had mentioned above, their prosperity ends the day they fail to wake-up the next morning to go to work. Elijah seemed to broaden the topic; admitting that lack of those benefits was an issue but also blaming individuals. This was another way of looking at the problems Although the pay is not guaranteed it is not to say that there is not money in the service. There are those who started out as touts then drivers and today they are vehicle owners.

I viewed the problem as having to do with little education; lets call it illiteracy; for lack of a better word. Ours is an industry that’s only qualification is an ID card and a driving license for those who want to take up more responsibility. The industry is open to everybody who has the courage to face the consequences that comes with the Job. And Since most starts as touts in their early 20s, they are introduced to what they consider easy money and are easily lured to peer pleasure, majority get carried away in drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism. Irresponsibility in the sense that; they misuse the earnings, many fail to build or maintain strong family foundations that they can fall back to. They fall prey to gold diggers and prostitutes because of the guaranteed daily cash income. Life in the cities is interesting and tempting as well. They later find they have no place to return in case of sickness or disability resulting from road accidents; since they are ashamed to face the people they abandoned.

Judy; the waitress who was serving us and was keenly following the debate begged to join in. she had a bone to break with my views. She defended women and distanced them from having taken part in the men’s failures. She said that; the so called gold diggers and prostitutes are also service providers and that these men need their services to be productive.  “They never ask anybody not to get married or leave their wives,” the bad news is that, many can’t afford to keep both ends burning and each has to choose who he wants to be with. Her boyfriend is a matatu driver and not the father of her children. Her views earned her a beer from my friend Peter.

Peter; who had not said a word since the discussion started joined in; He told us that our discussion was pointless as all we were trying to do is blame God for his creation. He warned us against judging other people and trying to find meaning in their life style. He said that everyman’s future and outcome of his life is destined by fate and powers beyond our understanding.  Principalities and powers. He said the job is reserved for those who are guilty and everybody should brave his punishment; anyone who wish to get out should first seek forgiveness and look for another job. some very interesting views and also an indicator that the alcohol was taking it’s toil. And Just like all talks over something toxic, we ended up precisely where we started; only minus a few hundreds.

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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THERE IS NEED TO INCLUIDE MATATU WORKERS IN REFORMING THE TRANSPORT SECTOR.

In my 14yrs career as a matatu driver, I have met and served hundreds of Thousands people from all walks of life. In my simple public service job, I serve on average, 200 people a day; inside my 14 seater van for the 8 return trips I make from Rongai to Nairobi. I am not alone; there are hundreds of drivers in my route others who drive even larger capacity vehicles. It is estimated that 40.000 Matatus serve Nairobi and its environs on daily basis and casually employs over 100.000 workers. This are among the mostly overworked and underpaid workers in this country.

As a blogger for the last four years; I’ve used this platform to advocate for better working conditions and improved wages while at the same time exposing corruption. In my campaign, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with persons I would have otherwise believed to be far above my league. Although matatu drivers are not locally recognized or even considered as important players in the transport sector, International organizations like UNEP-ITF and ILO, vehicle manufacturers, writers, Policy makers, researchers, film makers and journalists from across the globe and also students {Social cultural Anthropology and Urban Planning} from united States of America and England’s universities recognize our importance and seek our opinions when writing reports and/ or thesis.

It is through the eyes of this scholars that I have looked at our transport system especially passengers transport and seen the vacuums that needs filling. It is a sad reality that most workers after serving in this informal sector for tens of years ends up living in poverty. Poverty does exist:- and as a famous scholar would put it; It is a physical matter , those afflicted have such limited and insufficient food, poor clothing, live in crowded, cold and probably dirty shelters. This is the situation with most matatu workers; although there is quite a significant number that manage to escape poverty, majorities are caught in this web and suffer greatly for it.

Matatu workers are not poor because they are lazy or don’t have jobs to keep them occupied. People are poverty stricken when their income even if adequate for survival fails radically behind that of the community; when they cannot have what is regarded as minimum necessary for decency. Poor wages and long working hours affect most workers both financially and socially. They spend more hours away from their families leaving the responsibility of bring up children in the hands of women. After working for years, they find that they cannot adequately provide good education, sufficient food for their families, decent clothes, and better shelters. Negative media publicity and punitive laws shows how the community including states agencies regards them. The judgment of the larger community is that they are indecent and must be condemned.

Since Matatu industry in Kenya is a sub-sector of our economy that significantly influences the day to day lifestyles of the populace, ignoring such a huge population can be detrimental. Indeed, documented evidence indicates that 80% of Kenyan population utilizes this mode of transport daily. This industry is a major player in our economy and has a significant bearing in our social life. Although it is supposed to be a source of livelihood for many, it has failed to provide adequately for those already employed in the sector.

Dr. Jackie Kropp: center for sustainable urban development; Earth Institute Columbia University. Is a friend of the matatu industry and one of the people who have inspired me in my campaign for improved standard for matatu workers. Our first meeting was at Bishop Garden Towers Nairobi; the Head office of Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis ;{KIPPRA} during a forum on smart sustainable transport for Nairobi. We’ve met several times on different platforms including one at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri for Kenya civil Society Partnership Forum.  She is involved in various projects in Nairobi including the Digital matatu Route—

In one of her reports on our public transport system; She attempt to explain why the policy dialogue around paratransit in Nairobi tends to be so limited, often confined to attempts at punitive paratransit regulations without sufficient or convincing information on costs and impacts- and most often without any success in implementation.

Paratransit has become the backbone of public transit in Many African Countries. “Massive urbanization in places like Nairobi and the failure and sometimes even sabotage of formal bus and train services has propelled paratransit to be the dominant mode of public transport besides walking. Over the years, despite the entrepreneurial energy, flexibility and importance of paratransit operations, concern over congestion, crashes, violence and poor conditions of workers in the sector has grown alongside with the expansion of the paratransit system.”

Dr. Jackie Kropp is on the opinion that; A need persist to systematically address five key factors within the current system around paratransit:

1) Entrenched cartels with links to politicians and civil servants that make money off poor regulation and institutional weakness

2) Institutional fragmentation in the transport sector, both in the government at both levels and among operators, which enables this poor regulation and creates avoidance of responsibility for the system

3) The profound need for a drastic overhaul of the traffic police and implementation of the Public Officers Ethics Act (2009) within regulatory and enforcement bodies

4) The historical predominance of policy biases in favor of auto-mobility which leads to the neglect of paratransit in infrastructural development

5) Poor collection of basic data by government and operators; (related to the lack of interest by powerful parties in regulation) which might be addressed in part by the use of new technology to collect data from below.

Jennifer Graeff; a Project Coordinator; also from Center for Sustainable Urban Development – Earth Institute Columbia University, In her report; – The Organization and Future of the Matatu Industry in Nairobi, Kenya.; compares matatu industry in Nairobi to other African countries.

“In African cities, the paratransit industry is generally described as dangerous, profit driven, environmentally unfriendly but also necessary to be mobile and to maintain a daily routine of going to work, to school or to market.

For Nairobi to successfully come out of the chaotic matatu madness there is need to analyzing the informal paratransit mode by understanding the specific networks within the matatu industry, avenues to reform and strategies for bringing key industry stakeholders into a policy network advocating for a reformed system.”

We have ignored a very vital ingredient; that of recognizing potential pitfalls and engaging with key stakeholder including workers. This; can help foster transport policies, networks and an overall framework that can leverage the matatu industry into being integrated into a larger public transit system.

I personally wish and hope to see a more organized transport industry that meets the customer’s needs as well as minding the welfare of the workers. We the workers who operate the actual business of transporting people have no objection to positive reforms.  We all want what is best for Kenya.

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2014 in Matatu matters

 

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Being a Matatu Driver In Nairobi: An Interview with James Kariuki

Originally posted on Nairobi Planning Innovations:

Nairobi Planning innovations had a chance to interview the experienced matatu driver James Kariuki who is also an avid blogger on matatu industry issues and the need for reform (See his blog at  https://wambururu.wordpress.com/). James is also a writer, an actor and a father who has been profiled as ‘the reluctant outlaw” by Al Jazeera. We asked him a few questions to get his views from inside the matatu industry.

imagesNPI: How did you start in the matatu industry?

After dropping out of school in form 2 in the year 1992, I stayed at home for about two years. I later joined my mum at her food kiosk in Nairobi’s industry-area. This is how I interacted with matatus on a daily basis and I fell in love with the way the business was conducted. Around 1993, I became a conductor for a family van that used to…

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Posted by on October 17, 2014 in Matatu matters

 

Our persistence is proof that we have not been defeated.

Working in the public sector for the number of years that I have served in the Matatu industry has taught me very hard life’s lessons that I’m sure would have earn me a certificate in an institute of learning. I have talked about gross violation of almost everything about our job. Extortion; detentions; long working hours; low wages; Violence and myriads of other problems faced by operators of this very important public transport industry.
Since complaining is not the only thing I do in my service to my country, I joined other like minded persons from different counties for a three days seminar sponsored by the International transport federation ITF/FNV EAST AFRICA NORTHERN CORRIDOR STRATEGIC CAMPAIGN SKILLS SUB REGION SEMINAR. It was a great experience and quite encouraging even imagining that matatu workers are recognized and qualified to enjoy benefits enjoyed by drivers all over the world.

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The matatu fraternity which was represented by two independent unions benefited with a lot of attention from all the participants including top-level ITF officials who contributed ideas and possible partnership in resolving some of the issues and also advice on the best approach and possible tactics for addressing them.

The seminar helped to bring together different players in the transport sector in Kenya, {including Kenya LONG DISTANCE TRUCK DRIVERS AND ALLIED WORKERS UNION {KLDTDAWU}- MATATU WORKERS UNION- PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPERATORS UNION {PUTON}- AND TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION.{TWU}. It served as a catalyst for the formation of new network and partnership arrangements among the participating organizations for effective collaboration and support.

The matatu industry is probably the largest informal sector in this country; employing thousands of workers; sadly; with very little systematic management for employees affairs. The introduction of matatu Sacco’s was seen as pointer to the right direction in terms of, creating some form of employment/ job security for matatu workers but the results tell a different story.
Individual Worker’s hardheadedness, gangs and cartels controlling different routes and also corruption by higher authorities has been the biggest hindrance to bringing meaningful and beneficial reforms in this sector. Workers in this industry have had to put up, and for a very long time! Accept harsh working conditions and exploitation, in return, the industry has become a reserve for a special character of players; THE RELACTANT OUTLAWS.
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Unlike other workers in the wider transport industry anywhere in this country, matatu workers have never, at any time in the past been unionized or represented by workers unions like COTU and others. The absence of shop stewards and other relevant officers to campaign for workers rights and privileges; has also opened avenues for gross violations of labor laws.
The seminar was aimed at equipping transport workers unions with skills and strategies on how to approach various issues and the right tactics including campaign materials. Under the stewardship of international federations like the ITF; http://www.itfglobal.org matatu workers will soon see strong unions coming up to campaign for better working conditions, better pay, reduced working hours, paid leaves etc etc. Public transport operators Union. {PUTON}; has already started recruiting matatu workers to the union and has opened the way for other matatu workers based organizations and other civil society groups to follow.
The biggest challenge that these matatu workers unions with have to overcome is convincing their members that they indeed have a right to what pertains to their working environment and deserve better than what they are getting. For many years, matatu industry has been viewed by the majority as the black sheep and has enjoyed a lot of media attention although most of it negative.
With an estimated 30.000 Matatus that server Nairobi and its environs every single day, we can approximately put the number of workers; “drivers and conductors” at around 100.000 for the capital city alone. The number can rise to up to 300k if we include stage workers/ managers/ mechanics/ call boys and loaders. To win such a large following, Workers Unions need to work closely with the government, private sector and the media in carrying out civic education.
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Currently there are no defined structure/ mechanism to communicate with workers across the country. We will need to develop and implement a joint user awareness program for members to work with and engage with other members from every part of the country to sensitize and educate them on issues and benefits of trade unions. For a sustainable urban mobility, we need a defined job description for public service vehicles drivers. We need to remove the name informal and create permanent jobs for these very important drivers of our economy. It’s time for Kenyans to work together and bring the change they want to see in the public transport sector.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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It’s a new dawn for matatu workers.

I have heard people talk of the  GOOD OLD DAYS when things were different and presumed  better. That cannot be said about the matatu industry. There is nothing good about them days that we drivers would wish to look back to. It’s a reality that Change has come and with a lot of adjustments too; which we are happy to embrace. This is the best time to be a matatu driver. For most of us who are probably out of the game, we can only wish that these changes had happened much earlier. So much has changed for the better- overloading – over speeding- gangs- cartels- abusive language- untidiness- drunk driving- the list is endless; but all this is now water under the bridge. Anyone joining the matatu industry today especially as a driver can be proud to say he/ she is going to work.

It is quite amazing to see the number of women investors who have come on-board in this sector; we can say it is at an all time high- more women have become our new bosses and this should be an indication that the passenger transport sector is heading in the right direction. Barely ten years ago- this was not the case. matatu investment was a reserve for men and mostly the risk takers. Systematic managements by sacco’s and transport management companies have transformed the industry for the better. it is not very correct to refer the entire matatu industry as informal anymore; what we are seeing today is different- Drivers are hired/ Employed on permanent/ contract basis- given medical insurance cover- pension contribution- leave- and other benefits that most of us could never have imagined. the government has done a great job in securing jobs by forcing the matatu owners to take care of their workers.

Corruption has refused to let matatu industry be, and it is sad that some of these gains might be short lived. The National Transport and safety Authority has done a recommendable job in creating an environment that should secure employment for matatu workers; but some officers at the headquarters are colluding with corrupt sacco officials and helping them get licenses without  showing prove of employing the workers. I was interviewing the chairman of one of our Sacco in Kajiado north about the new regulations and he was not a happy man- he accused NTSA officials of engaging in corrupt deals where newly registered transport management companies that don’t even have the minimum 30 vehicles are allowed to operate and also poach already registered matatus from the other Sacco. according to the set rules,- Any vehicle that wishes to change route or join another Sacco must obtain a letter of recommendation from the current Sacco/ company and present it to the NTSA office at TIMES TOWER before it is given a license to operate under a different name. This is where corrupt officials are coming in and helping indebted vehicle owners to escape paying fee owed to these Sacco’s.

The introduction of cashless fare system is a good gesture but whose time is not yet. According to the National transport and safety Authority It was supposed to have started in July this year but it didn’t have the backing of majority. The idea was noble but the timing was not right as it was seen by many as a dubious way of helping some manufacturers get an edge in the matatu billions. Many in the sector and also a great number of users {passengers} had not been educated on how the system works and many felt that it was a violation of their privacy. The rates that the gadgets providers were charging was also on the higher side- for instance BEBAPAY were charging 5% per transaction. that is to say; a bus carrying 50 passengers for one hundred shilling per person would have a gross income of 5000 ksh- the cashless agent would take 250 shillings for that one trip; if the bus was to make five such trips, the agent would make a cool 1250ksh from one bus. Our Sacco has 60 vehicles; so, you can imagine the amount of money vehicle owners will be forced to pay to these companies in the disguise of fighting corruption. This idea as noble as we may be persuaded to believe is any obstacle and unnecessary burden.  Since corruption is in the traffic department of the police, we matatu operators should not be forced to go cashless in order not to bribe police officers.

We cannot say that we are in Canaan just yet but at least we have left Egypt. The conditions of employment are better, we have medical cover, pension- and for the first time ever,- a pay slip. Some of us have been employed in the management based not on our academic qualifications but proven experience.

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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