Monthly Archives: January 2015

What are the Barriers to success; for most matatu workers?

2015 is a new year for everybody and this is one good thing we all have in common. There are those who are happy to turn a new leaf because it means more to them most probably as a reflection of their lengthily experience in their jobs or field. There are still others who are wishing they could tamper with the hands of time and slow the pace. those that are worried about their future.

When I was a teenager, there was nothing I wanted more than to grow up;-grow big and become independent. I was looking up to becoming my own self; not dependent on anybody. And sooner, I turned twenty and got the independence I so much yearned for; That was twenty years ago. On January 12 2015 I will be turning forty} Yes, 40yrs in planet earth. They say life begins at this age and I am surely looking forward to begin life. I guess I have been living too much and need to begin life.

I have a very good feeling about turning this page and beginning a new chapter. The time has come for me to give back, share what I have learned in the past 39yrs, A time to take full responsibility to right the wrongs; I have seen it all and done most of it. I know what is beneficial and what isn’t. looking back , I can honestly say I have no regrets. What had to be has already been. Now this is a new beginning, it is not starting all over but rather choosing which way forward.

I am 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.

One thing has bothered me over the years, and Today I want us to look at what it is; that the majority of us don’t do; and the reason we don’t do that; which can make the difference in our lives.

When I joined the transport industry fifteen 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 of; 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, much older men with more grey hair; they 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 lively discussion, which ended up harming our pockets deeper than we could have budgeted for. It was during the weekend and we were seated in a pub. 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; most investor don’t really care about their employees; their main concern is the money this people makes for them. That was one reason- 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. This was another way of looking at the problems Although the pay is not guaranteed it is not to say that there is not money in the service. There are those who started out as touts then drivers and today they are vehicle owners.

I viewed the problem as having to do with little education; lets call it illiteracy; for lack of a better word. Ours is an industry that’s only qualification is an ID card and a driving license for those who want to take up more responsibility. The industry is open to everybody who has the courage to face the consequences that comes with the Job. And Since most starts as touts in their early 20s, they are introduced to what they consider easy money and are easily lured to peer pleasure, majority get carried away in drug addiction, prostitution and alcoholism. Irresponsibility in the sense that; they misuse the earnings, many fail to build or maintain strong family foundations that they can fall back to. They fall prey to gold diggers and prostitutes because of the guaranteed daily cash income. Life in the cities is interesting and tempting as well. 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 the men’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.  “They never ask anybody not to get married or 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 everyman’s future and outcome of his life is destined by fate and powers beyond our understanding.  Principalities and powers. He said the job is reserved for those who are guilty and everybody should brave his punishment; anyone who wish to get out should first seek forgiveness and look for another job. some very interesting views and also an indicator that the alcohol was taking it’s toil. And Just like all talks over something toxic, we ended up precisely where we started; only minus a few hundreds.


Posted by on January 10, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters


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