Behind the scene: Where is the madness?

22 Jul


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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