Up-close with a who-behind the matatu tout.

20 Jan

What is your name and where were you born?

•   ..My name is Geoffrey although most of my workmates call me Nissan. I was born in Kikuyu Division Central province.

•   Is that where you went to school?

•   yes, that is where i went to school. I went to a primary  school in my village called Lusigette then to Karai day high school.

•   What happened after you left school?

•   .. I did a course in electrical engineering, after college I took up a job as a barber in a local salon, but the business closed and a became a loader for a construction truck. I worked for about a year, but the lorry broke down and I returned to the village.

•   How did you end up in the matatu?

•   ..Sometimes later, my uncle bought a matatu and I was employed as a conductor. I started by applying for a PSV licence and then I trained for three days on the job. It was not very hard so, I learned fast.

•   Do you have a family?

•   .. yes I have a wife, and one child. He is four years old and started school last year.

•   What challenges do you face in your job in relation to maintaining a family and your job?

•   .. The major challenge is to work on a part-time job. You are never sure how long you will keep the job. The other challenge is working long hours and no time to spend with the family.

•   What is your philosophy in life?

•   .. A man is born in chains his duty is to win freedom for himself.

•   Matatu workers are known; or have a reputation for partying hard. What is your opinion on that?

•   ..partying is part of the package but it is not everybody who loves partying; even those who do, beat the habit with time. it is something you overcome with age and getting used to.

•   We hear cases of matatu workers being jailed. Have you ever been to prison?

•   .. Prison is mandatory for matatu workers, especially if you don’t have enough savings. The answer is yes, I’ve been to prison several times. I know about five different prisons. All this times;- for a charge called touting. The charge states that; it is illegal to shout when calling for passengers; which in the real sense is the job description of a tout.

•   which is longest time you did in prison and how did you get out?

•   .. The longest time I stayed behind bars, is forty-days and forty-nights. I was picked at Rongai main stage as i was packing passengers in various matatus for a small fee of twenty shillings. I.e, Whenever a matatu driver or tout is jobless for a long period say like two months or so; Most conductors and drivers come to the highway to assist those who are working since we are all professionals.I was jailed for two months or a fine of 4000 k-shs. I did not have the money, so; I completed my sentence, and went back to the same stage. It was the only means of earning some living if you are not formerly employed.

•   What does your family  think about your job?

•   .. They don’t like the job but it’s the only job that pays the bills for now.

•   Have you ever applied for another job while still working in the  matatu industry?

•   .. It has never crossed my mind because I consider myself working. What I do is apply and pray for a job I can hold on for sometimes, Just within the industry.

•   Do you regret coming to the industry?

•   .. No it was a good decision. I earn a living despite the challenges and most important I live independently. I have a home to go to at the end of the day.

•   What is the best and the worst thing that has ever happened to you in relation to you job ?

•   .. The industry has made me who I am. I eat matatu – sleep matatu- and earn my living in the matatu industry. That’s the best thing so far. Well; I haven’t seen the worst day, but forty days in prison is not good either. It still hunts me in the night.

•   What are your plans for 2012?

•   .. I’m planing to apply for a driver’s licence and then learn how to operate heavy machinery. Something big like; cranes or roads construction tractors.. I wish to work for a construction company as a plant operator.

•   Why that big change? You don’t want to drive a matatu?

•   .. Operating a plant machine is almost the same as driving a matatu- bus or trailer but it can create long-term employment.

•   Would you encourage a young man out of school to become a matatu conductor?

•   ..Well; that is very tricky, – I would not advise anyone making his choice of career to pick matatu tout but; the youth have no excuse to live in poverty while the job is available.


Posted by on January 20, 2012 in Matatu matters


Tags: ,

4 responses to “Up-close with a who-behind the matatu tout.

  1. dexxe

    February 20, 2012 at 6:58 am

    .. It has never ‘closed’ my mind because I consider myself working….
    Is that a jab at his accent or is it a genuine spelling mistake?
    Great blog.

    • wambururu

      February 21, 2012 at 5:19 pm

      Error is to man, Imagine doing the interview in one language and writting in another. Point noted and fixed. thanks for the sharp eye.

  2. abakario

    August 4, 2012 at 11:48 am

    its really encouraging to hear youths trying to earn a living decently instead of robbing us with gun. why do we hate matatu crew so much yet they offer us such a crucial service? they even raise a family from matatu

    • wambururu

      August 5, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I can only say- they just love to hate us. Maybe its bad publicity or natural hatred[ if there is something like that} but slowly by slowly we will get there.


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