Monthly Archives: January 2013

Barriers to success; for a matatu worker.

Give this post a second reading and tell me what we need to do. What is your opinion?

 Before I Was somehow convinced that I could actually put words next to each other and tell a story, I was a vivid reader of biographies and personal journals; stories about how humble people who were probably the least in the society managed to raise to the top of the world. I know how Sherlock homes was founded; how Bill Gates built Microsoft; how Kalashnikov invented the AK47; Ted Turner and CNN     among other great men and women Today I’m not really interested in how so and so did what they did to be who they are; I want to find out what it is; that the majority did not do and the reason they did not do that; which would have made the difference in their lives.

  When I joined the transport industry over ten years ago, there were those I found already fully established in the sector. Those who lived the life I envied; they talked the talk and walked the walk. They seemed to have all I was dreaming for; they drove the newest Matatus, dressed in the latest fashion and dated the prettiest women.  They stayed in self-contained houses and ate with silver spoons indeed.

Ten years down the line, the same guys are peasants, old men with grey hair who hang around the bus stops looking for squads. They can be generally described as living on hand-outs. Nobody gives them much attention anymore. What went wrong? I shared my thoughts about this issue with some of my close friends also matatu workers like me. I sort their views on the matter.

We had a very lovely discussion, which ended up harming our pockets deeper than we could have budgeted for. It was during the weekend and we were not somewhere in a house taking tea. The topic was; Why would a man spend 20yrs of his most productive years providing service to the public and end-up living on handouts?

Jeff a conductor was convinced that the problem lies with the Industry itself and how it is run. He said that despite workers putting all their skills in performing the tasks; the employer denies them all the benefits that other service providers enjoy. Benefits like Medical cover; employment contracts; pension contributions among others, this leaves the worker with nothing to show for his contribution at the end. I could see the point he was driving at; but I was not fully convinced. I turned to the next person.

Elijah a fellow Matatu driver blamed individuals {workers} for failing to move-on. He said that many employees get satisfied with little and draw their budgets according to the little income. To them, paying house rent and school fee plus providing three meals is all it takes. They fail to see the importance of investing in property. Since the industry does not provide the securities as Jeff had mentioned above, their prosperity ends the day they fail to wake-up the next morning to go to work. Elijah seemed to broaden the topic; admitting that lack of those benefits was an issue but also blaming individuals.

In my opinion, I viewed the problem as having to do with peer pleasure and irresponsibility. I argued that, majority get carried away by drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism. Irresponsibility in the sense that; many fail to build strong family foundations that they can fall back to. They fall prey to gold diggers and prostitutes because of the guaranteed daily cash income. They spend all their money with people who end up leaving them when they can no longer provide. This is a big problem especially to those who come to the city from the rural areas and leave their families in the village. Life in the cities is interesting and tempting as well. They cohabit with mostly single mothers and end-up supporting other men’s children while forgetting their own families back home. They later find they have no place to return in case of sickness or disability resulting from road accidents; since they are ashamed to face the people they abandoned.

Judy; the waitress who was serving us and was keenly following the debate begged to join in. she had a bone to break with my views. She defended women and distanced them from having taken part in a man’s failures. She said that; the so called gold diggers and prostitutes are also service providers and that these men need their services to be productive.  “We never ask anybody to leave their wives,” the bad news is that, many can’t afford to keep both ends burning and each has to choose who he wants to be with. Her boyfriend is a matatu driver and not the father of her children. Her views earned her a beer from my friend Peter.

Peter; who had not said a word since the discussion started joined in; He told us that our discussion was pointless as all we were trying to do is blame God for his creation. He warned us against judging other people and trying to find meaning in their life style. He said that every man’s future and outcome of his life is destined by fate and powers beyond our understanding.  Principalities and powers. That’s what he called them.

And Just like all talks over something intoxicating, we ended up precisely where we started; only minus a few hundreds.


Posted by on January 15, 2013 in Its life, Matatu matters



2013- A Bad Start Create a Good Step.

The year 2013 is here; It is very unfortunate that We started the year on a very sad note, especially for us in the matatu industry. So many lives lost in only the first 3days of a new year. We have no words to express our condolences to all those who were affected in the Salga and Molo accidents. The two matatus claimed more than 40 lives. The land is thirsty for blood and this might be a bad sign for what lies ahead.We must pray honestly and ask the Lord to help us survive the next big thing in our calender. The general elections are just around the corner. Kenyans are going to the polls for the first time after enacting the new constitution.

It’s been five good years; we have a new super highway; teachers and doctors have their hyped salaries and also our Members of parliament have awarded themselves the highest salaries in Africa. I don’t have a problem with the salaries because I know if i groom my children well, they might one day be the one’s receiving that kind of money. What worries me is knowing that this is yet again another round of easy money and dark secrets for our industry.

The campaigns will kick off early this time, now that there are more slots for leaders to fill. We in the matatu industry like every other peace-loving Kenyan are praying that the process come and go without loss of lives and destruction of properties. The politicians will start making plans to bring their supporters together and even choose the most appropriate location for their meetings. But when it comes to actually going to those secret places, that is when they give us a call. Matatus are the only vehicles that can carry a group of people without raising eyebrows.

Matatus have been used to transport drugs, illegal fire arms and in the recent case, explosives.For years now; Matatu’s plying nairobi Namanga route have been known to transport marijuana from Tanzania; those plying the Lokichogio and Busia route are awash with illegal migrant and fire arms and many others illegal materials. But the bone of contention is our involvement with politicians and their secret deals.

During the last general Elections that turned chaotic, we matatu workers were very instrumental both in rescuing the victims and ferrying the attackers. We fell victims to rooting, and destruction of property; a number of our vehicles were burned, stolen or sold illegally in some parts of Rift-Valley and  Nyanza provinces.

The countdown is on and in less than two weeks, we are going to know the fate of those suspected of being behind the violence. I feel the decision by our local courts on the integrity of those facing the charges at the International Criminal Court will have a big impact on the outcome of the elections and the aftermath. We appeal to all Kenyans to maintain peace and work together to make up for the losses we suffered in 2007.

What the perpetrators of this violence fail to understand is that,Our industry is not associated to any particular tribe and we should therefore not be victimized while in the line of duty. I would also like to plead with my fellow work mates; Please for your own good and for our country, refuse to be used by politicians to do their dirty work of transporting their supporters to disrupt campaign meetings by their opponents. let all of us participate in ending terror and maintaining peace that we have enjoyed for many years.

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Posted by on January 6, 2013 in Its life, Matatu matters


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