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Accidents and the raising cost of fuel affecting the matatu industry.

18 Apr

It has been a very tough week for our industry; the fuel prices has hit the roofs again; we were just starting to get friendly with our customers and now we have to change the tone to hike fares. I thought the discovery of oil was good news; well I guess that will take time. Or alternatively why not move our forces from Somalia and take them to South Sudan? We helped them gain independence why not go the whole nine yards? They have enough oil to pay for our services.That’s just my thoughts.

Let’s talk about the important things first – Due to a poor judgment caused by one of our own- more than five lives were lost on Thika Rd. earlier in the week,,,. We extend our condolences to the families who lost family members and to all those affected by the accident that involved a matatu and a truck belonging to the road construction company. Nothing can bring back that which has departed only accepting that death has taken away our loved ones will help us move on.

What happened there was human error which we can only find its root in the lack of proper channel to manage and run the Matatu business. It will not help if police put up road blocks tomorrow and impound all matatus, this problem has deeper roots and affect the industry like a virus does to a body. There is more of those drivers; where the one who rammed into a stationary truck came from. I have tried to brow this whistles hoping somebody in authority who has the power to do something will act but nobody has come up with anything physical. I still maintain that re-training matatu drivers is the best option.

I was reading an article last Sunday by one journalist.;;. He had related driving behaviors of Nairobi motorists and their likeliness to cause accidents. He did not put the blame on anybody in particular for causing the accidents but nevertheless pitched inexperienced saloon cars owners against the experienced matatu drivers and showed the reason we always beat them when it comes to quick thinking and avoiding accidents.

One thing we all ought to consider before throwing the first stone to matatu drivers is how many we are; how many people we transport to and from work; how many hours we spend on the road; what percentage is involved in accidents and how often. I know people who trained me to become a matatu driver more than ten years ago and they are still active and accident free. I have personally been behind the wheel for those ten years and never been to a hospital or a police station because of an accident. I’m not saying that any driver is too good for accidents but the fact is; how you act and react makes all the difference.

I spend most of my time on the road and there is not one single day that I go home without having done something to avoid a- would have been accident. I don’t sit on the horns when a motorist makes a mistake that requires me to do stunts to save my car and my precious cargo; I hold no grudge for traffic blunders; many people pretend to be following traffic rules and cause un-neccesally accidents that could have been avoided. How do you wait for an oncoming vehicle to hit you heads-on because you are on your line?

Road accident can affect anybody whether highly trained like the late Princess Diana’s driver or a street trained matatu driver; what every driver needs do is to play safe in his corner and hope the other does the same. The drivers responsibility is to ensure the car is in good working condition and well maintained; a bust tyre; failed brakes; un-functioning warning lights; stationary vehicles on the road and unmarked roads are the major causes of accidents in Kenya and I believe in most developing countries. If the drivers were doing their jobs, these are avoidable accidents.

Back to the petro prices issue; did you know that the bigger the bus the bigger the engine? Well let me give you a simple business fact. A Toyota fourteen seater matatu consumes fuel worth 500-600 Ksh per return trip to Ongata Rongai, a bus requires 1500 kshs and above for the same distance. A bus will carry 51passengers while a Toyota will make three trips carrying a total of 45 passengers with the same amount of fuel. Chances are, the Toyota will charge more and make more profit. A bus will make four trips for a day’s work and make an average total total collection of 18,000 Ksh: A Toyota will do 10—12 trips and make a collection of 14000 Ksh and above in medium traffic. To drive my business point home, one bus costs enough money to buy Six Toyota fourteen seaters. Which one would you invest in?

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Posted by on April 18, 2012 in Matatu matters

 

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