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Monthly Archives: July 2013

ACCIDENTS; THE WORST NIGHTMARE FOR A MATATU DRIVER.

I have talked about accidents being the worst nightmare for matatu workers; but I guess many people who read this blog perhaps have no idea how some of this accidents happen and what became of the victims. Majority of kenyans only comes to hear about the said accidents; in the 9oclock news. And many are quick to conclude that the matatu driver/s was probably speeding or overtaking or knocked down an innocent pedestrian.
Allow me to tell you what eye witnesses said about the following accident.

On a bright day early this year, this truck was in a good shape with all the headlights and windscreen. It was loaded with tones of sand as it drove through Ongata Rongai Township. The driver was probably in very high spirit as he had already found a client for his commodity. This is one truck that has earned its respect on the tarmac and calved a name for its self. It is locally known as MOMO.

On that fateful day the MoMo driver picked up speed as he passed a group of matatu drivers who hang around Uchumi supermarket Masai shopping mall; hoping to get squads from their fellow drivers who are fortunate enough to be employed.
The truck increased speed further as it drove down the small hill on the way to Nairobi from Rongai. Unfortunately for the truck driver; there was some kind of traffic jam on Maasai Rd junction, less than a kilometer from the town; all the cars in front of him had their brakes light on; completely at stop.  I guess he went for the brakes but the distance was too close to stop without colliding with the matatu, the last in the jam.  There was a factory track transporting mineral water on the opposite road; he could not go for a head on collusion.

The matatu ahead was to light to withhold the track and it would be more fatal if he hit it straight from behind. I gray saloon car was causing the snarl-up as it tried to enter the junction. He was running out of time and had to think fast; he decided to hit the matatu from the side and push it out of the way.

It worked and the matatu was turned 360 degrees but not without injuring most of the passengers in the back seat and even the conductor. The poor guy who had woken up very early to earn his bread broke some sensitive bones in his body and was admitted at Kenyatta hospital for several months. Today, he begs for hands-out at kware stage. his leg did not heal and he walks with the assistance of two wooden crutches.

The gray saloon car was not lucky either as the track got to it before it could make the turn and went over it. The driver was lucky to get out of the wreckage still alive. The front wheels of the truck went over the car like it was just a bump and went further down; the rear wheels flattened the boot of the salon car and left it spinning on the middle of the road.

It was not the same story with the few passengers of the next car the truck approached. By the time I took these pictures; all the victims of this accident were already in hospitals and I established from the traffic police a report that nobody died in the accident.

The truck went ahead and collided with two other matatus before hitting the mineral water; factory truck. I guess the impact with the truck help the driver to finally control the heavy machine to a stop. All the vehicles were towed to the police station and the responsible driver taken to court.

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2013 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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Digital transport system for Nairobi.

Nairobi residents and visitors alike can now find their way in and around the capital using public transport, without necessarily having to stop strangers on the streets to ask for directions. This is thanks to some of the Kenyans finest brains collaborating with other development partners who have been researching and designing a smart sustainable transport system for Nairobi. Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis KIPPRA in conjunction with Nairobi university; Center for sustainable urban development Earth institute at COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY; GROUP-SHOT technology and Civic design data lab;have pulled together to create an open access data base for public transit for Nairobi.
I felt greatly honored to be invited to one of their workshop at Bishop gardens towers herein Nairobi. So far the team has designed software’s and other applications which they intend to integrate with the the public transport in Nairobi and come up with something similar to Google map but specifically designed for Kenya public transport routes. This application will help matatu drivers and other motorist get updates on traffic flow on their individual routes and also alternative link roads or bypasses.
During the workshop , we were shown demonstrations of how this public transport system data will be applied. The ma3route app which was developed by Nairobi’s own Laban Okune is available on the market. Some of its info on traffic is free; see http://www.ma3route.com/. users can get information about traffic updates; blocked or closed roads, accidents reports and other useful hints about traffic situation on a given area.It also provide info on alternative means of public transport for those who use other means of transport like boda boda ;trains and cabs/taxi.
In another presentation, we were shown how it will be easy to find your way in Nairobi using “Pangasafari” application. For instance,; if you live in githurai along Thika road and you want to go to the lands registry in kajiado, all you need to do is panga safari-this application, also available in most internet enabled phones and computers, will tell you where to board the matatu in githurai, the designated and non-designated bus stops; where to alight in Nairobi, which other vehicle to board to kajiado, where to find it; the type of road and distance of your trip.
The system which is still being upgraded will probably provide useful information to passengers who have no access to the internet by running digital screens in some public services vehicles. FLASH-CAST has already installed digital screens on some matatus plying ngong Nairobi route; where passengers get traffic updates and also contribute in debates-using short message services.
Once this system is completed, it will be a milestone in setting the way forward for matatu operators who want to remain relevant in this digital era and also in line with vision 2030′ It was very encouraging to me, personally; sitting among the architects of this great idea and listening to representatives of government agencies like KIPPRA whose responsibility is to advice the kenya government on key issues; discussing ways to improve service delivery in the matatu sector. This is a clear indication that the government is ready and willing to change the way public transport business is conducted in nairobi and my presence was another indication that they are interested in in-cooperating all stakeholders.
It is about time matatu drivers took their jobs serious and embrace this latest technology.students as young as those in class one will from next year be introduced to lap-tops,;the first step to information super high-way; Matatu drivers should not be left behind. Matatu owners should also take advantage of the open window to formulate their organizations to fully fledged modern transport companies.
The law is clear on how a matatu driver should be employed. The only thing that is missing is for the ministry concerned to make sure that we are permanently employed by our bosses and also for the salary and remunerations commission to say how much we should be paid for our 16hours of public service. From there we will know how to plan and find time to learn some computer skills.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2013 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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