Monthly Archives: July 2011

Hope for matatu men

I congratulate  my fellow Kenyans for passing the proposed constitution into the law of our land, i have much hope and faith to see an end to corruption and extortion.Its a relief for those of us living in  Nairobi, and especially those working in the transport sector.

The reason i want to thank my brothers and sisters who voted in the referendum, is because of what has been going on in Our industry, for instance,  the carjackers have been having a field day robbing Matatu operators off cash and a number of our vehicles have been stolen and have not been recovered in the past years.The illegal tax collectors are still doing a booming business with our hard earned cash, i honestly believe that this government has the capacity to put this madness to an end. its humiliating to have people drag you out of the car and assault you in public without anybody raising a finger. this is violation of the whole clause on Bill of Rights.
The  cops have been the all time nuisance for our investment,we have been forced to reach an agreement with them on how much is worth for what offense.
It is now official[since they take the bribe at their respective offices] that
{a} obstructing other motorist while picking passengers is 1000 bob,
{b} failure to have the michuki uniform is between two to five hundred bob
{c} Offenses like dropping passengers anywhere else other than the designated area and other minor offenses like failing to have a photo displayed on the windscreen attract a transfer of phone credit worth between two and three hundred bob.
Its yet another story with the cops manning the road blocks, as long as you are carrying four or more people in your car, you either pay the fifty shillings.

As for Now, we have our fingers closed, we are hoping the new law will be respected by all and the government will bring in new measures to protect P.s.v. transporters,Kenya  is a great country,and we must keep the spirit of Peace Love & Unity.

The Government through the ministry of transport announced eairier this year that they will be facing off all the fourteen seater in the city. We in the industry welcome this brilliant move that will help the government achieve the millennium development goals as well,. as create a better road map to realizing vision twenty thirty[.2030]

What we might have a little problem with is the timing. There is talk in the industry that the politicians are playing their political cards with the proposed measures and that the police  and magistrates will be used to harass the matatu operators over the next few months  and then the prime minister will side with us to secure our votes  come 2012. This is not new and it will not be the first time; In the last general elections, the same method was used in Kajiando north, the police were given the rights to arrest anyone they wanted and charge him in court for a charge that was invented back  then called touting. According to the crime,it was illegal to be found anywhere within Rongai township if you work in the matatu industry. many of us were dragged from our house and locked up at Rongai and Ngong police stations where we could be locked for days and then produced in court if our families could not afford to pay what the cops called Usulu wa Mzee.

The matatu industry has been around for some times now, it started way back when Africans started owning cars and we have seen it grow from riding in  open trucks to the current _one seat one passenger-  I honestly dont think the Government has played any part in the growth. We the staff and the investors in this sector have evolved and still we are moving forward to seek new and more economically friendly ways of conducting our business. Our appeal to the minister of transport is this; find a way that you can work in collaboration with your counterparts in the finance and cooperative development ministries and come up with a project that will create  jobs for the over 200.000 youths who work in the transport industry. Or else, create routes oversight committees that will work from the counties level. the committee with observe the movement of people from each route and recommend the most appropriate mould of transport for that particular route. For instance; Kajiado county has over six individual routes, 126, goes to kiseria, 110 goes to kitengera, 125 ends its journey at Rongai while 129 and others goes all the way to Namanga border via Kajiado township. although the idea of buses and mini buses might work for Rongai and Kitengera, it can not be said the same about Kiseria, Kajiado and Magadi soda,  The state of  Magadi road is not fit for buses, we have lost life’s; and [it is in police records}  some investors  have seen their investment auctioned for failure to meet the repair cost associated with the damages caused by accidents and maintenance cost. As a professional driver, i dont think it is possible to operate buses in some routes no matter what good intentions the government may have.The facing out of 14 seater might not necessary be the solution to traffic jams and accidents. let us not repeat what we saw during the michuki era.

Before the police moves in to kill our investment, let the minister go back to the drawing table and come up with proposal that will help us but not open another loop hole for the boys in blue to enrich themselves.

To the Kibaki administration; You have done soo much for Kenyans; but this might just throw dust on the your clean record. thank you for better roads, now its the corruption you need to deal with.

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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Matatu matters



Behind the scene: Where is the madness?


Have you ever stopped to think or just, ask yourself, who or what it takes to become a matatu driver? I bet it might have escaped your thoughts, or perhaps its just not important. Well, it may as well be; because sooner or later, you will have to encounter them, and its is much better if you know who you are dealing with.
By now; i hope many Kenyans can tell the difference in the way different Matatus are driven, and i also assume that those of us who use this means of transport to get to our workplaces, will agree with me when i say that, we have a choice on which Matatus to ride in \and the ones not to give a second look even if they are offering sare.This differences; has deeper and more meaning in the industry. It starts with:
{1}The type of the vehicle,
{2}The number of passengers on board,
{3}The Bus fare charged by the matatu
{4}The risk you are willing to take, and most important,the time you take to reach your destination. Etc.

On the contrary, the difference is much deeper on the inside than most Kenyans can ever imagine.
Lets call the first group; the Boogie drivers, and the other group; the Mat drivers.
Don’t let the word boogie confuse you to believe that this category consists of the heavy-duty, buses or mini buses drivers;No,its only a term we use in the industry to describe the career drivers who have found themselves in the matatu industry after having worked somewhere else in a different atmosphere. Most of them drive the  un- marked vehicles,This are the matatus that have not seen much change from what they come with from Dubai, meaning, the owners just fitted seats, painted the yellow ribbon, applied for the papers and hired workers to help him offset a loan they had borrowed from some bank. This Matatus have nothing much to offer in-terms of customer care or entertainment. You might find a few here and there playing FM stations,but with the music copyright charging a fee to have a music player in a public places, the few are becoming fewer.
These owners are known to abandon their employees in jail in case any is arrested and fined a gross sum of money. Most drivers in this category work with a no strings attached attitude, that is to say, they are most likely to abandon the car on the road in case of a probable arrest. You can easily spot them by the way they always wear their blue uniforms,display a badge with a chain around the neck,the safety belt is always on,They do not carry excess passengers and they rarely overlap.This category alone covers 50% of the long distant PSV driver on the Kenyan roads.
Most interestingly this is the group that is most likely to be jailed for traffic blunders or cause accidents. The high accident rate is associated with this group because it consists mainly newcomers and those who failed to proceed to a higher lever driving even after spending years in the industry(those who fail to save enough to buy their own matatus).

Unlike during the dark ages when newcomers had to wait years to sit behind the wheels of the very few matatus that were available then; Things have changed a lot with the Michuki rules.Today anybody with a driving license and a psv, can drive a matatu or even a Mombasa bound bus, regardless of whether he bought them at Gikomba or  picked them from a lost and found counter.

Unlike their counterparts in the boogie class, This is no place for mama’s boy, The vehicles are expensively fitted, Alloy rims,beautiful colors and shiny graffiti, heavy metal music systems, and a very stable financial backup in case of emergency. The owners in this category are well-connected. they enjoy the backup necessary in this industry. Most are ,senior government officials, police officers, lawyers, bankers and senior officials in the city council.
Drivers in this category are the best this country has to offer, experience is the key. they are smart, brave and dare devils; they make movie’s like stunts on the roads and are most likely to make it to,or from the city in a record twenty-minute or less in the heaviest of traffic.The vehicles they drive are always in perfect condition and ever clean.they dont wear uniforms and their cars are never full. they will stop for the next sexy girl despite having over twenty already in the fourteen seater car. They are most likely to break any written traffic rule in the book and somehow still manage to leave a smile in the face of their customers who get home or to work on time, and the policeman or woman who will need the matatu at the end of the day for transport and a little pocket-money.
The accident rate in this class is 20% or less due to the qualifications needed to drive a BoKo as they are known locally.The driver has to be good enough or kill himself, its suicidal, speed is the game and the number of squads you make is the scores, in case of an accident, it is always fatal and the driver is most likely to be among those promoted to higher glory.
This Matatus attract police like the light does to a wasp,but the good news is that they always find a way back to the roads to give us Transport, Entertainment and sometimes scare the hell out of us.

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Posted by on July 22, 2011 in Matatu matters



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