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Using ICT to address employment and safety in the matatu sector.

The use of new information and communications technology{ICT} has been applied in many ways in various fields to collect data, improve lifestyles and most important to avert disasters. Data collection for whatever reason is the first step to winning any warfare.
The same is happening in the public transport sector thanks to A group of Researchers from Nairobi university in collaborations with their counterparts in university of California at Berkeley in the US. The team has come up with a new technology that will probably provide a better approach that could be used to leverage the positive aspects of both the investors input; and workers performance;

1. by providing reliable data that can be the key to improved safety.
This highly unappreciated industry is a fascinating expression of African entrepreneurship that has evolved into a multimillion investment; creating employment for more than a hundred thousand Kenyans and the only optional source of mobility {other than walking} for millions of people who rely on public transport every day.

I teamed up with a team of researchers from the university of California at Berkeley and our friends from university of Nairobi, we set out to clearly understand this vicious cycle that shapes the nature of public service operations in Kenya especially Nairobi.
According to our findings after numerous interviews with the stakeholders; majority of drivers complained of working long hours, and incentivized with high-revenue targets that they have to meet every single day. Lack of formal employment was also another obstacle for many workers {meaning no job security, no pay-slip, no insurance, no access to finance,} and therefore no stable career path to the middle class. They said they are rarely appreciated for their services despite doing their best.
Matu owners on the other hand complained of driver’s recklessness and rude-mannered behaviors. Most employers get away with not paying taxable salaries and they can hire and fire drivers at will. Clearly, not all drivers are saints, and again not all drivers are reckless. The dispute; the hostilities, the miscommunication are all caused by lack of tangible facts about job performance. And by bridging the communication gaps, we have a way to enhance the flow of factual information between the workers and the owners.

A solution could be found with the introduction of new information and communication technology to the matatu sector.
We started out a pilot project codenamed “SMART-MATATU; where we fitted 10 Matatus {plying Rongai to Nairobi Route} with a top of the range and well supported Web- Based GPS Tracking device. This system offers wide range of Fleet Management Solutions that gives the matatu owners full control of their fleet and access to their vehicles from any location. Through a computer or smart mobile phone, the System enables the user to; know the vehicle’s real-time position by time interval, Receive alerts for off-road driving, over speeding, sudden breaking and various driving behaviors’ alerts. The system has a Geo-fenced control to regulate movement boundaries; it records the number of trips made to and from the destination and also kilometers covered at any given time.
Three months down the line, we have managed to sustain the project; though with lots of challenges. At the same time; we have also shared the findings and got feedback from matatu owners and drivers respectively. This device is so unique since it has specifically been designed to track driving behaviors; the owner can be able to tell at what time the engine starts running and when it was switched off, When a driver over speeds on speed bumps, exceed speed limits, overlapping, driving off-road or when he diverts to a different route.
On the other hand matatu owners are pleased with the device since they can now be able to know the actual number of trips the matatu makes to and from Nairobi and also compare driving style for different drivers. This will in the long run create trust and most important a better relationship between the owner and the workers. Some of the owners we interviewed told us that they would have no problem employing their drivers on permanent basis now that they know they can trust them.

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2021 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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