When you have your priorities right or so you assume, you most likely have a positive approach toward what you want to achieve. Most of the times, we give all we got including attaining the necessary knowledge to facilitate all the right processes. Often times, the input we bring into the subject issue is everything we have and own in terms of the risks involved if the investment fails to reward.

Thousands of individual Kenyans have invested billions of shillings in what I can only call helping the government move people and keep the economy moving. Matatu investors pay billions yearly, though taxes ,fees, penalties, fines, licenses and bails deposit. Matatu industry [which comprises of 14 seaters, 9 seaters long distance shuttles, minibuses and buses with up to 51 seaters capacity] is responsible for providing upto 80% of public transport across the country. Nairobi alone is served by 60,000 plus matatus on daily basis.

Being an informal sector and yet so important for the economy of the country, the industry is therefore integral to the government and should be facilitated and guided by the laws and more so, sound and realist regulations that are open to amendments. Sadly, this is not the case.

Governments after governments comes and goes ‘since independence’ but instead of improving public transportation and investing toward making it sustainable, all the past regimes and so far the current one have continued charging services fees and taxes but not offering relevant services and facilities to enhance conducive environment to conduct the business.
For a single ordinary matatu to be on the road, the investor first buys the car from the dealer. Costs depends on makes (model) type and capacity. A fully assembled 33 seater minibus costs from 5.1m to 7m here again, depending on make and extra accessories added to increase revenue collection, USPs [unique selling propositions].

That is the first step, from there, you pay the government.
Advance tax =
Vehicle registration fee =
Inspection booking fee=
Number plate fee=
Road service license fee=

It is then that the government releases the vehicle to the matatu Sacco. Here the vehicle owner pays registration fee or joining fee. This is between 20 thousands and 200 thousands depending on route. This is nonrefundable one-off charge although not regulated by the government, the fee is compulsory before putting a matatu on the road.

All matatu Sacco’s are privately owned and vehicle owners have little or no say in the running of the entities. The directors decide on how much you pay daily as services fee and operations costs. This again is not negotiable. Daily operations fee is from 300 kes to 1500 for some bus companies. The Sacco is required of by the regulating government authority to provide and pay a driver and a conductor for your matatu. But unfortunately, Most Sacco’s have not employed drivers, the owner here has to provide and pay his driver.
After you have your matatu and you are a Sacco member, there is more; it is mandatory to have insurance for every passenger on board. For 33 passengers the minimum for third party insurance is 17,000 kes, third party insurance is only an option where the buyer paid cash for the vehicle, where a financier/ lender is involved the insurance cover must be comprehensive thus costing twice as much.
Other renewable mandatory licenses include county government’s parking fees which goes for 5000 and above depending on number of counties along your route. The more counties you need to stop, the more you pay.
Workers salaries can be paid on daily basis or monthly. The salaries range from 45,000 for a driver and 30,000 for conductor when paid monthly.
After fulfilling all the above requirements, the matatu owner hands over the matatu to the crew [driver and conductor]. The rules of engagements are simple and just like the way the entire informal sector operates, UNOFFICIAL/ off the records. =
The driver will operate your vehicle on the authorized route for certain duration of time everyday.
The crew will collect all the money and give the owner the agreed upon daily target.
The rest of the money goes toward; fueling the vehicle, paying protection fee and route managers [cartels] salaries.

Then there is the police to the equation;
It is estimated that one matatu pays an average of 2000 Kenya shillings corruption money, to the police every day. The loophole which the law enforcers use to mint all this money is created by the National government failure to provide enough facilities like bus stops and bus stations. Most of this Matatu routes don’t have picking and dropping areas thus, drivers have to find alternative loading and offloading places at the mercy of the police officers since its illegal. The court fine for dropping or picking passengers at undesignated areas is 10,000 shillings. When caught, Most drivers prefer to settle out of court with the arresting officer for lesser penalty

Passengers transportation market is very unpredictable, there is no day like the other, thus the income is not consistent despite setting the target. Many are the times that the target is not met. On paper and proposals, it might look viable and lucrative but on the ground- hundreds if not thousands of investors are straggling to salvage their capital and pay back loans. Hundreds have had their vehicles auctioned including whatever property they had put as collateral. Matatu investment is like gambling- and every investor must know the secret to survival, know when to walk away and when to run.
Barely a year ago an investor from This town decided to try his lack in the matatu business. He did his research and identified a brand new ISUZU as his vehicle to carry his dream of owning a fleet of matatus operating in the capital Nairobi. He followed the due process of owning a matatu by firstly buying a chasis from General Motors, It took five months from the day he paid the deposit to the day the matatu came to the road. And indeed, it was a beautiful piece of art. SPANKING purple custom build minbus. By looking at the final product, the 7million Kenya shillings he had put in to it was worth every penny.
The owner had done his homework well and invested heavy toward capturing his desired target group; mostly the youth and college students. Nicely crafted body shape, high-tech inbuilt entertainment package, mega screens, free WI-FI, Special seats and CCTV monitor.
He joined a matatu Sacco that operates along Langata road that serve students of four University institutions. Catholic University, Nazarene University and multi Media University. Initially this had been his desired route of operation and the main reason he had built a matatu most appealing to the young generation. Business started well and true to his estimates, he was able to make 14,000 shillings a day. He had been promised 15k but he was okay with the returns.
The good cash flow did not last long, although the matatu was working daily, the savings didn’t not reflect the same. There was always a reason for all missed targets.
DRIVER: Buyu tume-umwa na Gava, wanadai hi gari iko na ngoma excess, lakini ni lugha tu, ni sababu gari ni mpya na bado hawaja ilaba…
OWNER: Si gari imetoka inspection juzi?- Tena sasa music ni loud? Kwani na nyinyi munafungulia load music tao?
DRIVER: sio hivo buyu, ametukuta pale Agip tukibemba. Ata huyu karao ako hapa ongea na yeye.
COP. Wewe mzee hi gari yako inaenda dani.. umeweka ma-horni za kufukuza wanyama, ma-speaker Kila mahali na muffler. Kwanza hii inaenda kortini direct.
OWNER. SIO Hivo mkubwa, nimesangaa kwani vijana wamefanya Nini..saidia huyo sio kijana mbaya. Hizo vitu tutatoa. Wasaidie warudi kazi..
Twenty minutes later the owner gets a call.
DRIVER. hello buyu, tume-achiliwa, ametufikisa library akakula thao tatu. Lakini ni Hali ya job, tuta-recover boss. Wacha tuingie wira.
OWNER. Sawa, ni poa Kama mumeachiliwa. Nyinyi ruduni kazi mtafute pesa. Staki story jioni. Unasikia kamau???
DRIVER. usi-mind tutasaka doh. Alafu Buyu, Kuna vile hi ngoma iko na ma-short, nimepigia Elvo akam a checking ma-badaye..
That evening, the matatu did not bring home anything. Not because they had earlier been arrested, no, there was no money because after they were released, they decided to go to ngara to have the music checked. The technician ELVO had two other vehicles but they opted to wait.
DRIVER. BUyu leo hakuna vitu, tumeenda squad 3 tu. Zile mbili za asumbuhi alafu kukam hivi kutoka Ngara. Ile doh tilikua nayo tumejaza mafuta tukagawana Mia tano Mia tano.
OWNER. Bona hamukuniambia milienda garage? Kamau unasikwa na karao juu ya round music alafu Tena una kosa kwenda kazi ukatengenezewe hio hio music,?? Come-on!!!
DRIVER. BUyu sisi tiliona tusiside tukikusubua na ma-simu, bathi itengenezwe Mara moja kesho tuchangamkie wira roho juu. Leo ilikua siku ya ngaba!! Kazi tutafanya buyu. Lazima recovery hii week yote.
After that the calls kept on coming each with it’s own explanation.
Court fines

and many other unexplainable reasons. Each time costing thousands of shillings. After six months, the owner could not remember the last time he got the 14k target from the matatu.

One year down the line, the matatu started showing signs of wear and tear.. the color had started to fade and even the interior decorations had started falling out. It was time to refurbish. That meant another two months at the bodybuilder to remake the body. The cost was in hundreds of thousands.
As soon as he was back on the road, the matatu has a crush with the authority and his number plates were consificated. He was ordered to have his matatu re-inspected even though it was barely a month since going through the same inspection for the annual sticker. The re-inspection took two weeks and 60,000 shillings to get the number plates back.

A month after getting the number plates back, his matatu was on 9 o’clock news. It was one of the vehicles that had been hired for a private road trip to Meru but instead of the convoy going straight to Mere, some of the matatus that had also been hired from other routes decide to do some funcy stunts in the CBD. The were put on the police wanted list for prosecution.

The Sacco grounded the and submitted his number plates and road service license to NTSA. It is not yet clear how long the vehicle will be grounded and how much it will cost to get his registration back but one thing is quite clear, his investment is not paying and if at all he has made any money, it is very little compared to the amount he invested and the returns he expected.
I don’t think it’s prudent to have the investor bare all the burden while he has a signed contract with a Sacco. I believe it is because of the government agency responsible for transport namely NTSA that has failed to cushion investors from exploitation from rogue Saccos and corrupt police. Let everyone follow the law. Matatu Sacco should employ drivers and take full responsibility for them when they break laws. The investor deserves compensation since it was the driver who could have violated the law if indeed the court finds him guilty.

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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Matatu matters


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Manage your Matatu with ease.

The biggest obstacle affecting Matatu business venture today is routes and vehicles management. This involves the regulators i.e NTSA & traffic police, Sacco’s / transport management companies and individual vehicle owners. The reason why Matatu business has become one of the most risky investments so far has everything to do with the three regulators for failing to come up with sustainable ways of Addressing comprehensively’ issues affecting the industry.

The government institutions (NTSA and the police) must first of all take it as a crucial responsibility to protect citizens from unnecessary deaths and injuries caused by road accidents. One way of doing this is by ensuring that only qualified and competent drivers are allowed on the roads. The failure by this two main regulators has trickles down to Sacco managements especially town service routes, where we have seen companies operating without ‘ Codes of conducts thus, no internal mechanism for disciplining employees (drivers and conductors).

This has greatly affected routes management, forcing individual vehicles owners to incur extra costs by hiring workers privately( at their own term) and additional managers to monitor their fleet. Most of the current Existing saccos are just but cartels only being useful when renewing Road Service license (RSL) or paying parking fee. Vehicle owners have been left to deal with the police, pay court fines or bailout drivers even when they are caught breaking traffic rules, abide by the terms set by stage managers and even allow his/her vehicle to be driven by “others” and still paying compulsory daily Management fee and other hidden charges to Sacco’s where they are members.

But this is not to mean that there are no solutions: viable solutions based on facts that have been tested and proven.

For the last 3 years, I’ve been working with a team of economics researchers from a US universities who have been in the country researching on public transport and road safety in Kenya. “I’m only allowed to share what is in the public domain, so probably the ministry can somehow get access to the full report”.During the said period, the team conducted intensive research ‘using various modern technology, gadgets and scientific investigations’ and the findings might perhaps set the basis to finding a lasting solution to reducing road carnage especially in the Matatu sector.

Accidents and the aftermath, has left many investors, drivers, passengers and other motorists counting losses, handicapped, indebted, hospitalised and others doing time in jail. None of the said misfortunes can be said to be of lesser consequences, for at the end of the day, it affects all of us but in different ways.

During our research that covered over 250 town service vehicles operating in Thika, kiambu, kajiado, kibra , south B, Banana and Dandora, the team was able to track all movements, speed, off-road and off-route driving, acceleration rate, vehicle location at all times and ignition details, driving behaviours among others.

For three years, the team monitored and relayed the findings of the investigations/research to participating owners and drivers alike and what came forth could be the breakthrough in creating a sustainable management structure that can be adopted by Matatu saccos to improve safety and proper fleet management.

For many would-be investors, the transport industry appears to present a business mode that has guaranteed returns judging by the demand for this services across the country. But for the insiders (those already in the business), this is not the case. Majority are suffering in silence, straggling to pay back loans to lenders, keeping the vehicle on the road, borrowing to a point where they are forced to source financing from other ventures to pay instalments or risk loosing their vehicles to auctioneers. This can be attributed to hidden pitfalls and lack of reliable guidelines in the management of matatu saccos.

Lack of credible data/information concerning the day to day running of Matatu business is one of the reasons we see many failing to get good returns from the transport market. By credible data, I want to emphasise on the five areas that are most important in ensuring smooth running of this entities.

1- The condition of the vehicles

2- Maintenance record

3- Driving pattern or behaviours

4- Accounting and

5-legal requirements.

Poorly maintained and un-roadworthy vehicles are a major contributor to road accidents and low returns in Matatu business. Brake failures, tire burst, poor suspension, poor vision (lights,mirrors and screens) and other factors that are considered lesser and are mostly overlooked contribute to most of the road clashes. A stalled motor vehicle on the middle of a busy road is a danger to other road users and this is mostly a result of poor maintainance. Although some of the accidents might not be fatal or injury causing, they still require money and time if repairs are needed.

One thing I noted from the research is that: most of the vehicles that were not in very good condition during the installation of the tracking devices had the most breakdowns and we’re spending more time at the garage especially during the normal working hours and recorded very low income to both the crew and the owner and replaced drivers very often compared to those which were in good condition at installation despite belonging /operating on the same route.

A well maintained vehicle is not determined by passing the mandatory government inspection test conducted by NTSA. ..A very big NOT.. This could be, and is supposed to be the case, but corruption by officers in this institution has seen many unroadworthy vehicles getting legal NB. legal not illegal licenses to operate. On the contrary a vehicle in good condition has to have the following–

A- Good working brake system

B- Good suspension that ensures stability of the vehicle

C- Well treaded tyres / not worn- out

D- functioning speed regulator/ governor

E- Recommended seats, windows and mirrors

F- Properly insured.

It is the duty of any willing investor who is determined to succeed in public transport to make sure that the vehicle they are bringing on the road meets the above.

Once the vehicle is in good condition, the next step is to start keeping a record for any expenses that goes toward maintaining the vehicle in that condition. Income and expenses

This must include parts replacement, dates and mileage for normal servicing ( oil change, brake pads/ linings, greasing, transmission fluids etc). To enable you to get factual/ credible figures on wear and tear, you’ll be required to find a way of calculating distance covered in a specific period. You can do this manually by noting down the odometer readings before the start of every working day and deducting the kilometers covered from the reading at the close of business: This will enable the owner monitor expenses and can easily tell if the business is making profit or loses. Alternatively, you can install a tracking device and get all this information on your Android phone or a computer.

Matatu owners must fill the void created by the regulators by ensuring proper and documented management of their vehicles and the behaviours of their employees on the roads to avoid making heavy losses. Also, they must be in touch with the day to day running of their business and not leave everything to Sacco’s and or management companies. At the end, it is the owner who suffers the most since most of this Sacco’s don’t own any of the fleet they manage.

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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in Its life, matatu investment, Matatu matters


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Will there ever be a solution to Nairobi’s traffic jam?

There are solutions but they will require a lot of cooperation by concerned institutions. The objective should be to reduce traffic and not accommodate traffic. A reduction of traffic brings with it added positives – cleaner air, less noise, less stress-related disorders etc etc.
Promoting public transport is a necessary tool for achieving a reduction in traffic. The Government must spend its money incentivizing travel by public transport, increasing inter-connectivity of the various modes of public transport, increasing the number of trips, making them safe and “attractive” to every strata of society.

When it is not safe for people to walk even over short distances, they result to using public transport. Many trips over these distances are undertaken by vehicles not as a choice but by force of circumstance.

The largely avoidable use of vehicles for short-distance trips, which account for a significant proportion of all urban trips increases congestion, energy consumption and emissions, and renders walking, cycling, and public transit even more unviable. In short, planning for vehicles to the exclusion of other modes leads to even more motor vehicle activity and impacts.
We need to find a way of improving public transport services. We can do this if we make it sustainable and dependable.
If we build infrastructures that accommodate public service vehicles needs like bus stops, special lines for public service vehicles and easy access to bus stations, I believe we can make public transport a preferred and cheaper mode of mass transport.
The county governments of Nairobi can save taxpayers millions of shillings wasted in fuel, parking fee and medical care if they can use some of the large unutilized spaces within the CBD. Come up with A new plan, relocate some institutions and buildings to pave way for modern bus stations and build extra lanes for buses and Matatu in general.

 For instance, Kenya Railways occupies a large portion of unutilized/idle land: from Muthurwa all the way to Nairobi railways club on Ngong Road. The land extends to Uhuru highway near Nyayo stadium round about. On the Jogoo road side, we have Muthurwa bus park- but the access roads are poorly designed and never maintained.
 With proper planning, this land can provide link roads for PSVs to get to the city and to bus stations; we can absorb all matatus coming from Industry-area, Mombasa road- Langata Road- Ngong Road- Enterprise Road and Jogoo Road in to the train station; without interfering with the CBD.

.= The Ministry of transport must ensure that infrastructure and facilities for pedestrians (and cyclists) are incorporated as an essential component of all urban transport projects. Doing so would minimize the need for, and curb rapid growth in, motor vehicle activity, enhance the effectiveness of public transit and help achieve an urban transport system that is safe, cost-effective and that benefits all, including vehicle users.
= What is required for the core city is a comprehensive mobility plan which should be a combination of roads, public transport system, parking space, and pedestrians walk paths and introduction of alternative transport systems.
= Also, we need to come up with new training programs for drivers to educate them on driving skills and traffic regulations. Failure to observe traffic laws – over lapping- blocking exits/ entrances contribute to the congestion.
With the introduction of speed limiters/governors, we have seen fewer accidents and less fatal injuries in PSV sector; but the numbers have increased for non motorized road users. Groups such as young children, the elderly, the disabled, and the urban poor, who often have no choice but to walk or cycle, are particularly disadvantaged and at serious risk of being hurt or killed in accidents. Lack of pedestrian accessibility affects all, since everyone, including vehicle users, is a pedestrian at some point.

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Posted by on January 12, 2018 in Matatu matters


NTSA Versus ONGATALINE. The blame game..

Ongataline has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. The company has been trending in all media avenues, local and international televisions, print and the social media platforms. This came after a grisly road accident that claimed the lives of five passengers and left more than six injured.

It was a tragic moment that we would prefer to forget but the memories of the young souls whose lives were cut short will forever remain with us. The board of directors and the management of ONGATALINE TRANSPORTERS extends our deepest condolences.

The loss of just one promising young life is devastating, but the scale of this tragedy has deeply affect hundreds of parents, relatives, friends and the community at large. Our thoughts are now with the victims and their families.” We will never forget their demise and it marks the turning point for the change that all Matatu operators will from now adopt to ensure safety on our roads. Although no words can really help to ease the loss, our prayers are that those affected will find comfort at this difficult moment.

The company .

Ongataline transporters limited entered into the Matatu business six years ago as a privately owned company that manages public service vehicle in one of the Nairobi routes. It was founded out of necessity after the government passed the law that all passenger service vehicles must operate under an umbrella body:either a limited company or a savings and credit cooperative (Sacco)

This law was passed by parliament in 2003 and implemented the following year under the then minister of transport hon. John Michuki who is remembered for his famous “Michuki rules” There was law and order during his tenure and a good number of people saw this as an opportunity to invest in the this highly competitive transport market. When Michuki left the helm, those who succeded him did not continue in his footsteps and the sector slowly relapsed to its old ways. later the goverment introduced a constitutional body NTSA (National transport and safety authority)which was mandated to manage and regulate transport across the country.

NTSA was a noble idea but due to failure by those in charge, Impunity and corruption returned in full force. As time went by, officials became corrupt and grossly misused their newly aquired powers. NTSA became the law by itself and pushed corruption to a new level. Unlike the traffic police who would impound your vehicle and take you to court, this new outfit had the powers to sermon any Matatu sacco from any corner of the country, impound cars and even revoke licenses without a fair hearing or a notice to appear in court.

This resulted in strained relationship between some transport management companies and the regulators. Investors started lossing millions of shillings through unfair business practices. Most Sacco’s collapsed internally and cartel like groups were registered and given licenses to operate.

Matatu owners who had been in this business for long and those who had invested heavly came together to see how they could come up with a sustainable way of surviving in the transport business. Ongataline was one such company. It started with 20 fourteen seaters vans, seven minibuses and four buses. Today six years later the company has grown to a fleet of over 70 mini buses valued at over 400 million Kenya shillings close to 5 million US dollars . This vehicles are owned by various individuals and institutions we also have over ten buses owned by Kenyans working abroad.

Ongataline transporters ltd as agents for road transport came to the scene with the aim of improving productivity and helping investors maximize on their earnings and at the same time provide reliable public transportation that is sustainable. in the last 2years the company has invested heavily in science and technology in finding innovative ways to improve in areas that contribute to major losses.

Addressing road safety.

The company has been engaging private developers, designers and researchers from local and international universities in finding lasting solutions to ensure safety on the roads. Most of our vehicles are already fitted with tracking device which is able to :

1)track the location of the vehicle in real time

2)Distance covered and also tell the speed at which the vehicle is traveling at any given time and can also keeps records for all events from the time it was installed.

This has been a millstone in improving safe driving and easy monitoring of the vehicle which has shown positive impact in management and improvement of productivity. Ongataline transporters intends to have all vehicles fitted with sensor technology once it is available in the market to be able to monitor all their fleet.


The other grey area is money transactions between passengers, conductors and the owners where issues to do with security, accountability and transparency is concerned

In 2014 NTSA passed a law that all Matatu must buy a specific cashlite machine from certain banks and other private companies. This was one brilliant idea that could have brought accountability but due to corruption in the regulating authority it turned out to be a fraud.

As a private company, this issue had to be addressed and in this regard, We have been conducting training workshops and sensitisation programs for all our drivers and crew to train them on application of new innovative technologies.

The system we are currently testing is designed to allow users/passengers the option to choose which Matatu they want to board, pre-book a seat and pay via mpesa. This reduces waiting time at bus stops since the system is able to give you a list of all buses and their locations, the fare being charged and also the estimated time it will reach your picking point or stage. The system is able to record all transactions making it easy for Matatu owners/sacco to monitor the number of trips and the amount collected from passengers. This has worked well with our management system and the issue of setting high targets was addressed thus reducing competition on the road and helping us to control our earnings.

Before the tragic accident on that fateful Sunday afternoon, the company had been voted the best transport management company in kajiado and also the fastest growing in the region. We had improved our relationship with financial institutions which had helped many investors acquire loans to buy more buses.

The decision by the regulators to deregister Ongataline came as a shock to us and to the institutions we had signed business contracts with and also to our passengers who had come to rely on our services. Despite our close cooperation with the regulators, the accident attracted a lot of media attention and public outcry which overwhelmed NTSA and they reacted aggressively ignoring all the gains that the company had made in improving road safety among other benefits.

Banning Ongataline to me is a setback to improved public service provision. And I also believe the decision was very unprofessional and was not done in line with the law but to suit some individuals and swift blames.


Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Its life, matatu investment, Matatu matters


Beware of pickpockets!!!

When evil fights back.

It’s painful especially for me who calls himself a veteran in the Matatu industry, to feel, firsthand, what passengers feel losing variables in the hands of criminals who are well known to most Matatu crews. I have known this gang for years, I never allowed them to board my matatu. Majority of Matatu touts especially those operating along Langata Road, Bomas, st Mary, Rongai and karen for long, might have encountered them sometime in the line of duty.

They comprises A group of about 6 well built men mostly carrying backpacks or large envelopes. They boards as passengers and take strategic position inside, they mostly prefer a near empty Matatu where there is scuffle to get seats, once seated, they find a way to create confusion. ‘Fungeni belts, police wako na operation!!. Or they may choose to alight when most of the passengers are getting in robbing them as the squeeze it the small space between the seats. They may even pick a fight with one passenger and go physical, passengers starts leaving the nearby seats calling for the driver to stop. In the ensuring commotion everyone gets confused and they never knows when their laptops, wallets and phone left their bags.

A big number of conductors have been arrested after passengers reports to the police but that’s as far as it goes. Most of these crew don’t allow them in their buses ever again. The problem with this complains is because the police locks the crew at the station for a few hours but since there is no evidence that they have the stolen properties, they are later released.

Earlier today, we lost very important data in the hands of this pickpockets In one of Rongai matatu., “it so happens that, most often we don’t feel the pain when someone else is being victimized. We know it is wrong but we choose to ignore it. Not until we are the next victim” Today I felt the pain and I hope our security agents in Langata Nairobi area will do something.

For sevaral months now, I’ve been burning midnight oil together with a group of four US students who have been in and out the country several times working on a pilot project for the milion dollar idea that will completely change how we deal with cash in the public transport sector.

Unfortunately, the angry side of public transport in Nairobi came hunting and two of the founders of this great technology were robbed in one of the flashy Rongai Matatu. A laptop that contains months of research, photos, important drafts and loads of crucial info.

I cannot imagine this thieves selling this laptop to a back street dealer and all our months of work wiped in a touch of a button. This guys are well known and many passengers can relate to similar situation, it’s painful to feel hopeless and lose valuables daily in our matatus by people who can be identified because we lack ways of apprehending six healthy, gym going, ordinary gang. And no way of proving our complains.

Is their anything in the police training for this kind of crime?

Do we have anyone qualified to be posted at Langata to solve this problem we have lived with for many years?


Posted by on September 11, 2016 in Its life, matatu investment, Matatu matters


The more things change the more they stay the same.

Someone once said that, “Only a fool does the same thing twice expecting different results;” and by the seem of things we must be doing somethings foolishly. 
What I’m worried about is the outcome of the current public transport hype and this unrealistic policies being touted by NTSA. We had a similar situation 12 yrs 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 crime 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 this government 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 harass 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 is talking about improving the Matatu sector. All they care about is bringing in new competitors.

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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Its life, Matatu matters


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What you didn’t know about Matatu drivers

Sometimes back, I drove a Matatu to an exhibition during United Nations Environment Assembly; at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi Kenya. For the five days of the assembly, visitor from all participating countries came into a closer contact with the most infamous “Matatu”. It was quite an interesting moment for me to interact with people from across the globe and also to answer many questions on the structuring of the Matatu industry and my role as a Matatu driver.
The Exhibition provided the organizers with a rare opportunity to get feedbacks from people of different walks of life and from different regions of the world, on how they personally think of our ‘public transport system’ and ‘the people who provide these services’.
To make it easier for visitors to participate, we had a freshly painted white 14 seater Matatu; we provided ink marker pens for visitors to write {on the Matatu body} their thoughts on ‘what they think of the Matatu industry’ and also share ideas on ‘how we can improve the sector.

  This are some of the views expressed on just apportion of the Matatu. [zoom to read clearly]
Photo05111 .You gives big problems on the roads.
2. Train the Matatu staff more on road safety.
3. A public nuisance
4. Get Matatu out of the roads and introduce BRT like in South Africa.
5. If you change everything but not our attitude, it is all in vain, change your attitude
6. Can Matatu staff respect the passengers who give them income and jobs. E.g. reduce music..
7. Matatu drivers; don’t think the road belongs only to you.
8. Please Matatu; don’t kill more Kenyans, you have taken too many of us; yet you know we cannot do without you; Be good.
9. Avoid over speeding.
10. This is the worst thing on Kenyan roads.

I believe Majority of those who attended the Assembly; don’t use public transport frequently and probably, their only encounter with the Matatu’s is on the roads as motorist; {while driving their personal vehicles or in a company’s staff bus}. Most of the 100+ messages that we got at the end of the exhibition seemed to point at dissatisfactions in services provision directly or indirectly pointed to the Matatu drivers.
Although it is the noun in our Kenyan mindset to see Matatu industry as an easy getaway to blame for all our transport woes, {and the staff as the black sheep’s of our country,} it is wrong {not right} to judge the entire Matatu fraternity or put a blanket condemnation . There are men and women who work under very harsh conditions to provide these vital services to the citizens of our beloved country. We all know the drivers on duty -behind the wheels- and in most cases our encounter with them is brief depending on the distance and frequency of our travels.
We only see their public face and judge them by how they treat us, but; can you walk a mile in their shoes?
09122011706 Think of a MAN haunted by what he encounters and the horrors he see’s every day on his job. He has lost count of accident’s victims, {badly injured; bleeding, screaming; trapped in the wreckages;}he has freed, dressed their wounds. The unconscious HIT N Run victims {lying on the middle of the road} he has rescued and took to hospitals. He is not a cop but he has seen it all. The same man has had guns pointed at his head and even witnessed people been shot at close range by car-jackers.
He is the one guy who has slowed down to rescue a person being chased by muggers even helped penniless victims to get home or to a police station to get help. Finally I want you to look at a man who did time in prison because he could not bribe-a corrupt government officer/s. this man has a lot in common with your average town service Matatu driver.
When he wakes up every working morning, he reports to work in the Matatu industry; his job is to transport people from one place to the other. He is not a government employee despite serving the general public. Majority are not even permanently employed. They earn a commission at the end of the day depending on the income and the targets they get from the employer.
Despite their contribution and putting all their skills in performing their tasks; the employer denies them all the benefits that other service providers enjoy. Benefits like Medical cover; employment contracts; pension contributions among others.

He works in an industry full of criminals- thieves, pick-pockets, extortionists, you name it; those who prey on his passengers and also Matatu workers especially conductors.
The pick-pockets are the most common. They work in a group of 4-6 guys and are most tempting to conductors as they are in facts, passengers and pays full fare. They dress like college students and even carry back-packs and very large clipboards. They are most active during peak hours and end-months when the demand is higher than the supply and passengers are pushing to find space in the few seats available. Passengers don’t notice when their wallets leave their pockets and their handbags ransacked. Conductors also fall victims to these criminals although they are mostly blamed when the other customers discover their losses.
The phone-snatchers don’t actually get inside the matatu but all the same they steal from the same. There are a few isolated cases of this group actually robbing the crew but many a time they prey on passengers toying with their phone with the windows opened. They are very tricky, they mostly run along the Matatu knocking on the doors or even hanging on vehicles side’s steps pretending they are demanding something from the driver or conductor. They normally create a commotion or an argument attracting the attention of the passengers; some opening the windows to see what’s happening forgetting to guard their properties. This is when they snatch and run. They are also known to snatch money from conductor’s hands.
The muggers are the most vicious as their game plan is not only dangerous but also hurtful to the victims. This group of mostly 5-7 guys boards the matatu like ordinary passengers and somewhere between, they pick-up argument with fellow passengers and starts fights inside the matatu. Before the driver knows what is happening, everybody in the car is screaming for him to stop and throw the fighters out. Once the driver stops the criminals pull their victim out of the car and continue to fight on the ground. The other passengers demand to be taken to their destination leaving the muggers to mug one of their own.
IMG_0259 Then there is the corrupt element of the police; this is the biggest headache and the most expensive cartel to work with for many matatu drivers. As the legal custodians of the laws of the country, they have the power granted to them by the government to impound and detain those who by their judgment act against the law. And as the regulators in this sector, they see the industry as their cash cow. Like I said in my previous post; It would be unwise not to have a contact person at the police station especially those that man your route of operation. It is hard to survive in this business even when you have complied with all government requirements; however you may hate corruption;; there are some police officers who will look for reasons or even obscure offense and place it on the crew and this will cost you dearly.
At the end of the day, the same man/ woman goes home and becomes a parent. At least, he has something to take care of his family. It is a tough job just like most essential service providers go through, though littlest appreciated. Salute a matatu driver the next Time you come imto contact, you never know when you may need him/her.
Wishing all those who have kept this blog active for the last four years a merry Christmas and a fruitful 2016

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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

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