Monthly Archives: November 2013

Yes Re-testing driver is good-but Re-training could have sounded better.

A few months ago, I posted on this blog an article dedicated to the Transport Boss where I had mentioned 10 recommendations that his ministry could apply to help create employment, weed out corruption and most important, bring sanity on our roads. I am very happy today to see that somebody has been listening and two of the recommendations have been considered if not followed to the letter.

For a long time, i have been running east– west , knocking on tens of executive offices doors, police stations, politicians offices and personal calls to anybody i know. I have written letters to Media houses and personal pleas on this blog and other social sites, all this time seeking for support to re-train Matatu drivers. And just like a miracle from heaven, I woke up this morning to a headline THOUSANDS OF DRIVERS TO LOSE LICENSES AS MANDATORY RE-TESTING STARTS NEXT YEAR.

It is now a law that all Public Service Vehicles drivers, will undergo a mandatory testing { training could have sounded better} and will be issued with a special license upon being certified to be fit for the tasks.  This is the way to go. “You have scored a first one; Hon. cabinet Secretary.”. I know this will be meet with a lot of resistance by some quarters, especially those targeted {fake and illegally acquired Licenses holders} and will therefore require the government to be very careful how- the very well intended road safety measure- does not turn out to be another corruption black-hole and infect the only remaining untainted disciplined institution, The National Youth Service.

The prescribed changes will be a blessing to matatu operators. What we matatu drivers want more than anything else is to be recognized as working Kenyans. we want our jobs to pay for our pension; medical insurance, for us and our families and most of all, we want to operate in a safe environment where we only meet other qualified drivers on the road and our jobs are secure. It is not possible for any man to wake-up in the morning and wish to be arrested or hospitalized before the end of the day, most of the times we lack the skills and sound training to help us discharge our duties professionally. We rarely see road safety campaigns targeting educating matatu drivers but we hear all the time of NGO’S funded and government supported campaigns for civic education. We are the victims most of the times. Anytime you hear in the news that a matatu has been involved in a fatal accident, remember there was a human being behind the tag, his life is also important.

Like I had recommended to the Ministry of transport ,The government must now take it as a crucial/serious responsibility; to protects it’s citizens from unnecessary deaths and injuries caused in roads accidents and lives;lost because of human error. One way of approaching this is, to be sure that only competent drivers are allowed on the road. Kenyans are said to have peculiar habits and bad driving seems to be one of those they all have in common. About 60% of the drivers have no idea that they drive badly. You will find a motorist breaking the law, right in the eyes of a traffic police, and when he is stopped, he/she claims that Kenya police are corrupt and all they want is cash bail.

The new regime should look at this particular area with great interest and recommend and go as far as implementing measures aimed at sealing all loopholes in all driver’s licensing departments. A unqualified driver is more dangerous than a terrorist; much worse than a suicide bomber. He can kill people en-mass and get away with a fine or a short sentence.
For as long as we still have untrained and illegally acquired drivers and licenses, we will not be any safer on the roads. One way of making sure that we have the best hands behind the wheels of our public transport is to weed out the bad ones. We can achieve this in just under three years as all those who currently have PSV drivers licenses will have to renew them in the next 12 months time.There is no need to put a dead line as to when we should all have re-tested January will only cause confusion and inconvenience transport. Let every driver go when his/ her current license expires. by November 2014, all drivers including those who got the license today will have complied.

we will all go to the revenue authority at one time or the other between now and December next year, at varied dates to get renewal. The government can take this as an opportunity to re-testing and retrain public service drivers on their competence before allowing them back on the road. The objective is to have an audit of how many drivers we allow to carry passengers and how good they really are; verify the licenses they are currently using and issue them with new certificates of competency. within a 3yrs period all matatu drivers will have the new licenses and all the fake ones kept out of the roads.

This is a stitch in time that will surely save nine.


Posted by on November 26, 2013 in Matatu matters


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Police Reforms is a Genuine concern.

The Cabinet secretary for transport Engineer Michael kamau was recently quoted in the local media as saying that ” The matatu Industry is one docket in his ministry that gives him a hard time and he would not mind if the sector was removed from his ministry and given to somebody else. This is a genuine concern that should not be ignored. I have ‘personally’ been in this Industry for over 15 yrs and i can see his point very clearly. From far back as the narc Government came to power under president kibaki, A lot of effort has been put in trying to bring sanity and some order in the matatu industry but most of this effort is defeated. And chaos and all manners of corruption, carjacking, extortion and harassment remains the order of the day in the matatu sector.

The cabinet secretary is not the only one having nightmares because of the undisclosed hardships he is encountering in discharging his duty; the newly appointed then suspended and later re-appointed chairman of the NATIONAL CAMPAIGN AGAINST DRUGS & ALCOHOL- AUTHORITY chairman HON John Mututho is also complaining about frustration by some police officer who have interest or investments in the selling of alcohol. Like i have always complained about policemen owning matatus and using their power to interfering with the smooth flow of traffic and adherence to laws and order; HON Mutotho is also not happy, and it is emerging that the police are doing more damage even in other sectors they are entrusted with.

Corruption in the corridors of justice is another obstacle which also point fingers at the police department, Most of the traffic cases that do finally get to the courts are again doctored by prosecutors{police men/women} or reduced to lesser charges at a fee and only the -have-not’s- end up meeting the magistrate.I know this is only a tip of the iceberg; If we were to look at other areas where police exercise authority, we would be meet by same stories of how justice remains with a price tag and reserved for those who can afford it.

The cabinet secretary for transport should not throw in the towel just yet. he should borrow a leaf from the NACADA chairman who have vowed to camp at STATE HOUSE gate if that is what it will take; and explain to the president about his frustration with senior police officers who own bars and allow them to operate without due respect to the law. Kenya is today blessed with a caring and mostly, a listening president and deputy president who judging by their  determination to develop this country and secure their legacy,will be more than willing to solve this Matatu madness once and for all times and put in place a well organized public transport system. A starting point would be to separate police from traffic duties; We have invested in Digital traffic controlling system why not bring in Traffic marshals from private or The national youth service to take charge of our roads, and prosecute offenders in special traffic courts.

The war on drugs and substance abuse is yet another area that is been hindered by the law enforcers and the effects of this problem[ drug abuse} has crept to almost every area of our social and professional life’s leaving a trail of destruction and wasted years. I am saddened by the sight of desperate and sick ex-matatu workers who have been reduced to zombies by drugs and alcohol. who hang out at bus-stops across the country begging for handouts from passengers. The number of drug peddlers and wines and spirit outlets near matatu terminals { opened as early as 7.30 am} is increasing. We know most of those who sell this drugs and the owners of this bars and yes, the police also know them and comes to collect their portion even in broad day light and in their official uniform and vehicles.

My frustrations with the law enforcers, is the failure to protect even the environment. Allowing vehicles with excess smoke is to me not caring for the hands that feeds them. The number of matatu drivers who have died of Pneumonia, Ashma, TB and other respiratory diseases is worrying. The reason it has never grabbed headlines is probably because nobody bothers to take note. Drivers are hired with no signing of contracts or any legal agreement and fired the same way, when anyone falls sick, only the family and close friends gets to know. I hope and I wish someone with authority will dedicate his duty to get this unroadworthy vehicles killing our drivers with poisonous fumes off the roads and save many lives. This is another group of people who also perish in the roads but their statistics are not known or noted in most road safety campaigns.

The idea is not to blame or point an accusing finger to the police, I only want to point out the problem and hope someone {it might be you} will do something about it.

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Posted by on November 22, 2013 in ewaste, Its life, Matatu matters


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Draconian laws will not solve our problems. especialy Road carnage.

Corporal punishment seems to be the approach the ministry of transport  intend to apply to address road carnage which has become a major headache for the current Government in its bind to be judged by performance. Correct me if I’m wrong and better still, prove me wrong, but I can bet you, a hundred thousand- that all the tough talking and all this noise about tough measures will soon die and the plan collapse. Road safety or lack of the same has many aspects and concentrating only on one area like we have been doing for the last century will not change the situations on the roads neither save lives. It doesn’t help much to punish killers after they have killed when we could have prevented them from killing in the first place.

The way to solve and find a long lasting solution to problems affecting the society and where many lives are lost every single day needs sobriety and an open mind. They say “only a fool does the same thing twice expecting different results”. I don’t want to say that we are acting foolishly but we seem to be doing what we have already tried before and failed. The decision by the cabinet secretary to suspend all licenses- issued legally -to all the over 100 vehicles -managed on behalf of other investors- by Umoinner Sacco is barbaric and not for this age and a big blow to many newcomers in the passengers  transport sector investment. Most of this 33 seater minibuses are not even a year old and still owes the banks and other financial institutions and owners millions of shillings and risks repossession.

The government is Just being insensitive while only the other day, we were begging the international community not to issue travel advisory to their citizens because of an isolated terrorist attack at Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi- but here we have the same Voice from the government- because of one isolated incident of road accident- they have issued travel advisory/ withdrawal of license  to an established transport company that has made great effort to put together tens of investors and hundreds of workers in a team that provide transport services to residents and visitors of Umoja and Inner-core area.

We in the matatu industry are not  as privileged as the media house, who for the past few days have been using every available space in their network to criticize a bill recently passed by parliament that seem to interfere with their freedom. they have come up with a title for the campaign, “”Draconian media bill'” and so far they have the president’s ear. Our draconian laws that touch on our security, safety and freedom are passed and implemented with no resistance since we lack the voice. Two wrongs are never known to produce a right- and violating the rights of others is not going to make it right .

As much as the Government wants to be seen as in control of the situations, the method they are using is not the right one and it shows that we still need the international community to help us protect our citizens and provide long term solutions to our problems. Those in power are very quick to react desperately when accidents and other disasters arise only to fade back and wait until the next disaster. When we are busy jailing and killing our own citizens by way of punishment. Our brave development partners are burning the midnight oil seeking solutions to our problems as was evident during the -SOUTH TO SOUTH EXPO 2013-   UNEP had organized a forum on “road safety and non motorized transport” where various civil society groups from across the country and other nations whose objectives is on road safety and non motorized transport came together to discuss and also establish ways of collaborating and getting a wider scope on what other civil societies are doing in reducing road carnage.  The cabinet secretary should borrow a leaf from organizers of the SOUTH TO SOUTH forum and engage without discriminating all stake holders in the public transport sector especially matatu drivers; whose nature of job requires them to be on the roads any time they are on duty. {I felt really honored for a matatu driver to sit next to The head of transport Unit in UNEP; Rob De Jong and get his ear on matters touching on matatu industry .

Let those involved Do a broad research on all the possible contributing factors that cause this accidents and include scientific research, which might provide so many answers, to some of this questions if we were to know more details or patterns that drivers who cause this accidents might exhibit and other psychological reasons probably not considered before.. A far-reaching collaborative effort will bring many options on the table to be addressed and possible consideration.


Posted by on November 5, 2013 in Its life, Matatu matters


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