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Monthly Archives: March 2013

Matatu industry to benefit from the new consititution.

History has a way of repeating itself. We are in the very same situation we were 9yrs ago. Back then, it was president kibaki who became the 3rd head of state,this time round it is Mr. Kenyatta who is most likely to become the 4th president of republic of Kenya. All of our political attention is focused on the outcome of the petition filed at the supreme court by Honourable Raila Ondinga and the Coalition for Reforms and democracy{CORD} challenging the Jubilee Alliance’s win in the presidential elections conducted early this month. We are all eagerly waiting to hear the verdict, although we somehow know what the outcome will be.
So far, the last week has been quite an entertaining TV drama; watching the learned friends out-do each other with their polished English and tailored suits. What they are doing is just playing a psychological mind game with our political sense; And the good or bad thing about is that; it is working. I guess this is what leadership is all about. Just explain to us convincingly that we have every reason to believe that our government is in good hands and you can leave everything else to us.
What I was saying about being in the same situation we were 9yrs ago has to do with the public transport. Our industry (matatu) has had to come through a very rough trend to finally reach where we are and thanks to millions of our faithful customers who have stuck with us. Our hearts goes out to those of our clients who lost their lives and hundreds who lost their jobs as a result of the transition that took place during the last transition of power from the second president to the third and the introduction of the michuki rules. That was 9yrs ago.

For those who don’t know what era it was that made one cabinet ministers called michuki, the most talked about politician; then this is how it all started. Soon after the NARC government came to power in 2003 after 24yrs of single party rule. Those who took power were determined to transform this country; I don’t know whether it was for better or for worse;
One of the areas they gave more attention according to what they had promised, was in the transport sector; they had sworn to end corruption, road carnage and other misgivings in the public transport sector. But what came out of the much touted change was a whole new wave of high level corruption and gross human rights violation.
A traffic cop could flag down a 51 seater bus, check the tyres: they are okay. Check insurance sticker it’s valid. Check the driver’s license and its okay, he is in uniform; but unfortunately, he forgot to hang his portrait on the windscreen. Now that is a very bad crime:, all the passengers had to seek other means of transport to wherever they were going because the driver has been arrested and the bus has to be towed to the nearest police station. He would then be locked up at the police station until the following day when he will have his day in court.

Now these is where the trick was {and still is}; according to the laws that we operate under, once the judge has been told what you did,i.e- you are brought before the court and your charges read. The magistrate only gives you two options; you are either remanded in custody, or given a cash bond that sometimes goes up to 20,000kshs or more; depending on what the cop writes on the charge slip.It does not matter whether what you were charged with is true or not; To get your freedom again you have to pay the bond or go to remand prison.
Majority of those who can’t afford the amount, have to spend the fourteen days at Nairobi industry-area remand prison before they get another date with the judge. When they return to court after those two weeks, the cop who arrested the accused fails to show up and you get another 14 days. Eventually, the cop will not show up at all and the judge will release you after some months.
The next time the same cop flags your matatu down you better give him what he wants or the same fate befalls you again.

Now with the signing to law of the new constitution and hopefully a new government that is said to be a listening government, we the workers in the matatu industry stands to gain a lot, and perhaps turn these most hated career into a respected public service profession. There was not much said if any in the political party’s manifestos = in regard to matatu industry. we don’t know what the new regime has in store for us. They talked about trains and modern roads but not anything touching on the matatu’s public transport which either way, they will have to work with before the tracks are marked and railway lines laid.
Our hopes are raised high up, by the new constitution; one chapter in the new set of laws chapter 4. if fully implemented will completely cripple the cops from harassing us. we will soon see the end of corporal punishment and illegal detention of matatu workers.
Article 25: states that ,freedom from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment will not be limited to any person despite any other provision in the constitution.
Article 27 (b) further promises to give full effect to the realization of the rights guaranteed under these article. The state shall take measures including affirmative action designed to redress any disadvantage suffered by individual or groups because of past discrimination. I wonder how this will be implemented but all the same; we hope they will find a way.

Our appeal to the new government is to protect us from those who abuse states power to harass and extort money from us. We are tired of being held at ransom by corrupt police office who threaten to through us in prison if we don’t pay our protection fee. We sincerely hope the new president will consider the bills brought before him and see if they will be beneficial to the common mwanainchi or whether they will open loopholes for criminals to abuse those powers. we hope and pray there will be no discrimination this time round and no group of people will be victimized. up to you UHUROTO.
“If intelligence and reason must prevail, is it not more reasonable and intelligent to remain open and listening for the voice of God or for any other voice; than to shut up the eyes and ears and not even allow that there might be voices to hear?”

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Posted by on March 29, 2013 in Matatu matters

 

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Dear Mr, President; remember the kenyans in the matatu industry.

If all goes well, like most of us are praying for, we will soon have a new government in office, our hopes as matatu workers are very high this time round. During the campaign season before the general elections,one of the presidential contender and his running mate called a meeting with some representatives of matatu industry.It was an open discussion and the leaders very keenly, listened to the issues we raised concerning our vocation and mostly/our cries about the problems we face in our jobs. They promised to look for solutions once they come to power. Today; the was aspirant; is the president elect.
We hope the court petition challenging their election will not take us back to the ballot, but all the same we are ready. If the supreme court rules in their favor, then we expect the new leaders to keep their word.we have heard so many promises being given to electorates during campaign times but this time round we have faith that they will reach out to this service providers and help them instead of condemning them like all the other Kenyans do, whenever there is an accident.
We are still very worried about the traffic amendment bill 2012 that was designed and meant to punish matatu drivers with hefty fines and long jail term. we are afraid that it doesn’t turn out like it happened in Israel, long ago after David’s reign; when one of his son’s became king and decided to consult his younger generation for advice instead of the old wise elders who had been close to his father. when people were expecting ease and comfortable life,He increased their burdens and brought more sufferings.
I really hope Uhuru kenyatta will reach out to matatu operators and help them make a career out of their jobs through the ministry concerned. It is high time that a lasting solution was found that will improve the services we render to our customers,bring sanity in our roads and at the same time help create permanent jobs for thousands of matatu workers country wide.

I’ve been writing and posting for almost three years now, hoping somebody with authority will one day borrow something useful from the blog and perhaps consider our point of view when dealing with issues touching on our career in the matatu industry/- I wanted to say; our casual jobs.

A report by Society for international development titled ‘Informal’ transport sector workers in the Great Horn of East Africa. while analyzing this blog, noted that;- I quote; “There are two known ways drivers in the Matatu industry cope with the stresses and challenges they experience every single day, )- taking drugs and/or drinking alcohol. Drugs and alcohol consumption serves as an outlet for these drivers who feel trapped with no real way out. In most cases, the drivers and crew members are under the influence when they are operating their respective vehicles.”
The sad news is that, this is true. The report also goes on to say that, Nonetheless, a third outlet that seems to be prominent among driver is religion. Religion is a resilience tool used by matatu and dala dala drivers to get through their very dangerous and unpredictable lives. Everything about their jobs is inconsistent and sporadic, however religion is a constant.
Instead of relying on religion and or drugs and alcohol to get us through each day; why not the people we claim;to have been appointed by God to lead us; do what God would want them do in the helm of His appointment. Its about time the government worked for the people–especially those who have been discriminated for ages.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2013 in Matatu matters

 

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