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Category Archives: Spiritual wisdom

The way i see it. Matters related to faith and works

What you didn’t know about Matatu drivers

Sometimes back, I drove a Matatu to an exhibition during United Nations Environment Assembly; at UNEP headquarters in Gigiri, Nairobi Kenya. For the five days of the assembly, visitor from all participating countries came into a closer contact with the most infamous “Matatu”. It was quite an interesting moment for me to interact with people from across the globe and also to answer many questions on the structuring of the Matatu industry and my role as a Matatu driver.
The Exhibition provided the organizers with a rare opportunity to get feedbacks from people of different walks of life and from different regions of the world, on how they personally think of our ‘public transport system’ and ‘the people who provide these services’.
To make it easier for visitors to participate, we had a freshly painted white 14 seater Matatu; we provided ink marker pens for visitors to write {on the Matatu body} their thoughts on ‘what they think of the Matatu industry’ and also share ideas on ‘how we can improve the sector.

  This are some of the views expressed on just apportion of the Matatu. [zoom to read clearly]
Photo05111 .You gives big problems on the roads.
2. Train the Matatu staff more on road safety.
3. A public nuisance
4. Get Matatu out of the roads and introduce BRT like in South Africa.
5. If you change everything but not our attitude, it is all in vain, change your attitude
6. Can Matatu staff respect the passengers who give them income and jobs. E.g. reduce music..
7. Matatu drivers; don’t think the road belongs only to you.
8. Please Matatu; don’t kill more Kenyans, you have taken too many of us; yet you know we cannot do without you; Be good.
9. Avoid over speeding.
10. This is the worst thing on Kenyan roads.
image

I believe Majority of those who attended the Assembly; don’t use public transport frequently and probably, their only encounter with the Matatu’s is on the roads as motorist; {while driving their personal vehicles or in a company’s staff bus}. Most of the 100+ messages that we got at the end of the exhibition seemed to point at dissatisfactions in services provision directly or indirectly pointed to the Matatu drivers.
Although it is the noun in our Kenyan mindset to see Matatu industry as an easy getaway to blame for all our transport woes, {and the staff as the black sheep’s of our country,} it is wrong {not right} to judge the entire Matatu fraternity or put a blanket condemnation . There are men and women who work under very harsh conditions to provide these vital services to the citizens of our beloved country. We all know the drivers on duty -behind the wheels- and in most cases our encounter with them is brief depending on the distance and frequency of our travels.
We only see their public face and judge them by how they treat us, but; can you walk a mile in their shoes?
09122011706 Think of a MAN haunted by what he encounters and the horrors he see’s every day on his job. He has lost count of accident’s victims, {badly injured; bleeding, screaming; trapped in the wreckages;}he has freed, dressed their wounds. The unconscious HIT N Run victims {lying on the middle of the road} he has rescued and took to hospitals. He is not a cop but he has seen it all. The same man has had guns pointed at his head and even witnessed people been shot at close range by car-jackers.
He is the one guy who has slowed down to rescue a person being chased by muggers even helped penniless victims to get home or to a police station to get help. Finally I want you to look at a man who did time in prison because he could not bribe-a corrupt government officer/s. this man has a lot in common with your average town service Matatu driver.
When he wakes up every working morning, he reports to work in the Matatu industry; his job is to transport people from one place to the other. He is not a government employee despite serving the general public. Majority are not even permanently employed. They earn a commission at the end of the day depending on the income and the targets they get from the employer.
Despite their contribution and putting all their skills in performing their tasks; the employer denies them all the benefits that other service providers enjoy. Benefits like Medical cover; employment contracts; pension contributions among others.

He works in an industry full of criminals- thieves, pick-pockets, extortionists, you name it; those who prey on his passengers and also Matatu workers especially conductors.
The pick-pockets are the most common. They work in a group of 4-6 guys and are most tempting to conductors as they are in facts, passengers and pays full fare. They dress like college students and even carry back-packs and very large clipboards. They are most active during peak hours and end-months when the demand is higher than the supply and passengers are pushing to find space in the few seats available. Passengers don’t notice when their wallets leave their pockets and their handbags ransacked. Conductors also fall victims to these criminals although they are mostly blamed when the other customers discover their losses.
The phone-snatchers don’t actually get inside the matatu but all the same they steal from the same. There are a few isolated cases of this group actually robbing the crew but many a time they prey on passengers toying with their phone with the windows opened. They are very tricky, they mostly run along the Matatu knocking on the doors or even hanging on vehicles side’s steps pretending they are demanding something from the driver or conductor. They normally create a commotion or an argument attracting the attention of the passengers; some opening the windows to see what’s happening forgetting to guard their properties. This is when they snatch and run. They are also known to snatch money from conductor’s hands.
The muggers are the most vicious as their game plan is not only dangerous but also hurtful to the victims. This group of mostly 5-7 guys boards the matatu like ordinary passengers and somewhere between, they pick-up argument with fellow passengers and starts fights inside the matatu. Before the driver knows what is happening, everybody in the car is screaming for him to stop and throw the fighters out. Once the driver stops the criminals pull their victim out of the car and continue to fight on the ground. The other passengers demand to be taken to their destination leaving the muggers to mug one of their own.
IMG_0259 Then there is the corrupt element of the police; this is the biggest headache and the most expensive cartel to work with for many matatu drivers. As the legal custodians of the laws of the country, they have the power granted to them by the government to impound and detain those who by their judgment act against the law. And as the regulators in this sector, they see the industry as their cash cow. Like I said in my previous post; It would be unwise not to have a contact person at the police station especially those that man your route of operation. It is hard to survive in this business even when you have complied with all government requirements; however you may hate corruption;; there are some police officers who will look for reasons or even obscure offense and place it on the crew and this will cost you dearly.
At the end of the day, the same man/ woman goes home and becomes a parent. At least, he has something to take care of his family. It is a tough job just like most essential service providers go through, though littlest appreciated. Salute a matatu driver the next Time you come imto contact, you never know when you may need him/her.
Wishing all those who have kept this blog active for the last four years a merry Christmas and a fruitful 2016

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

 

Frequently asked questions on matatu investment 2015.

1. >I saw your blog post on matatu business and you mentioned that you were setting up a transport management company. I would like to know if you have achieved this and if so if you have more information for investors?

We are in the final process of registering the transport management company; we have identified most of the challenges facing investors and we have come up with the strategy to address those issues. We are currently working with other saccos within Rongai route as unit managers, we are targeting to meet the recommended 30 units to get a license from the NTSA. So far we have managed to get 14 vehicles which we have fitted with a fleet management system/ GPS tracking and Cashless system. We pay between 3000 and 3500 for a 14 seater van and between 8 and 9000 for a minibus provided it meets the requirement for the current market. email us for more information. guidancetravel@yahoo.com or call James- 0704 606730

2. >Thanx Wambururu for the good work you are doing and the responses you give. Am gonna be direct on this. I am set to join the matatu industry, i have a good manager who i believe will take my business forward . My manager has told me that we should focus on acquiring an ex tour vehicle, probably a DT Dobie Urvan. I have identified several on OLX , but my question is, How do i ensure that the vehicle is in a good mechanical position as the owners claim, what sort of inspection can i subject it to make sure that the engine, chasis and the body are in a good condition?
It is very tricky to get TLB for a 14 seater especially if the vehicle you plan to use has never been a matatu before- EX Tours are thought to be better but that is not a guarantee that they are always in good condition. Furthermore the choice of the make {Nissan /toyota} is very important and differs for different routes. Nissan is better and more efficient for short distance- town service routes while as a Toyota is best for long distance and hills. You need a good mechanic who is specialized in the model you wish to buy and follow his advice. A recently government -inspected van is an advantage.
3. >I have 2M .My home is in Ngong.I have been working outside country as a Mechanic and I am returning home.I can get financier and buy a 33 seater minibus I want the matatu to operate on route 111 or Kiserian route so that I can easily monitor it. I am mechanic and I can manage the repairs myself in my home. Kindly advice on whether my dreams are valid and the challenges I might face, and whether its advice able to take the risk.

You seem like a person who is set for matatu business and I would really encourage you to follow your dreams of owning a matatu or probably a fleet in future- You already have about 2million, a financer and a destined Sacco which is route 111 Ngong—Nairobi.
You also happen to be a skilled mechanic which is necessary and will reduce the maintenance cost; what you need is a crew especially the driver who understands the business and can safely take good care of your vehicles.
You also need a join a Sacco that has a fleet management system- GPS tracking and a cashless system. That way, you will be able to monitor your vehicle- know how many kilometers/ trips it has made- driving behaviors of different drivers etc.
4. >Hi Wambururu, am Kamau and much interested in owning a second hand matatu soon. I want to join a sacco whereby i would be saving 20,000 per month. In 7 months time i will have 140,000 then i would like to take a loan 5 times of my savings for me to have 700,000 to buy a second hand matatu. Now my question is does your matatu sacco offer such kind of services if not can you advice or refer me to any other matatu sacco.
Thanks in advance
Ours is a transport management limited company- we are registered under the registrar of companies act. However I work closely with matatu Sacco’s in Kajiado- Rongai Kiseria and Ngong; I know of one Sacco in particular that has been lending capital to drivers to buy their own vans as long as they remain with the Sacco. You need to first register for membership @ 5000 and then you start saving; they normally give 3 times your savings but I’m sure they can be very helpful in a situation like yours.

5. >I have been a good fan of your blogs. I would like to inquire about investing in the matatu business.
Is it possible for me to start with 00.ksh.. I mean, can I get a loan with the matatu as the security?
Thanks

Nothing is impossible though some things are said to be next to impossible; most banks will not finance a matatu no matter how much you are willing to deposit. Different banks and financial institutions offer different packages on asset finance. The best way to get the facts is to talk to loan managers. I have seen adverts from Equity bank where they claim to finance up to 105%. One thing I know is that you need at least a six months bank statement and in case of financing a matatu, you need to have a very active business account or another matatu already on the road.

6. > Hi,your blog is really helping. Anyway I’m thinking on acquiring 2 brand new 33seater Isuzu from GM and put them through githurai 45 route.
Will the returns be good?
How are the saccos over there?
Please advice
Minibuses are taking over the matatu business though they have to face a stiff competition from the larger capacity buses. Githurai is popular with 51 seater buses and since they are in large supply, they easily handle the flow of passengers to a manageable level which strikes a balance between the price, demand and supply. Since matatu business is a trade like most businesses; where the law of demand and supply applies Githurai route does not offer the best investment opportunity. However tides are changing and passengers are shifting to vehicles with fewer capacity which are quick to fill and more comfortable.

7. >I have been reading these article and comments and just trying to make sense out of everything, what i would like to know is what to include in a proposal for getting a loan from an investor ,i know most of these comments are a bit out of date and probably the market has shifted a bit ,kindly can you advice on these matter as i am interested in getting my claws in these business .thank you for your consideration.
I have tried to cover this in question 5 above; nonetheless, I have to agree with you that the comments are a bit back dated but not much has changed on the ground. You will need to talk with your bank manager and see what they are offering then compare with what Sacco’s are giving.
8. >Thank you for your article, I invested in second hand a 51 seater bus being financed by my sacco but upto date i have not made any profit from it,it have consumed all my money but am optimistic ill make it..my Sacco have been very supportive, they want to restructure the loan n be paying small installment, my question is?
1. my current job is not paying well and am not permanently employed, can i leave it and be going with the bus..am convinced i can get 8k per day.
2. Whats your take on repayment procedure.
You have not said how long you have had the bus and again which route you operate; this is very important and I believe it has a lot to do with your current situation. it is advisable to always keep the supply line open I.E. quitting your job might not be the smartest thing to do for now. There is a reason why your bus is not doing well/ making any profit- this may result from mechanical condition of the bus- crew- or even Sacco management among other factors. I would recommend you get a person you can trust to work with your bus and identify the cause of the problems.
If I got your second question correct- you want to know my take on the repayment procedure- I don’t know how much you owe the Sacco or whether you are paying a fixed interest or in a reducing balance basis. You can email me more details.. Wambururu@gmail.com.

9. > Hi Wambururu, thanks for the great information you are providing on your blog regarding investing in the Matatu industry. I’m 22 yrs managing my own food delivery business in Nairobi, i was a rongai resident before i moved to South c,i save 4500 per day and i want to venture into the 33 seater matatu business by the end of the year. is it possible to approach a bank and what r the requirements..
Congratulation for the good work you are doing and a profitable venture indeed. You have an upper hand in getting financing from most banks if you are operating a business account. With your savings which I would estimate to be over 120,000 per month, you only need a six months bank statement- a deposit of 969.000 Kes, call this number for more info- 0722 140 378 Yvonne Mengo- sales team leader ACMG authorized ISUZU Dealer for GMEA.

10. >I have developed great interest for the matatu industry. And from the previous advise you’ve given other people I have decided to buy a second hand 33 seated instead of taking a loan. My route of interest is githurai 45 and I would like you to manage it for me. How much should I expect per day?
I’m not familiar with Githurai route; so, I can’t promise you how much I can raise in a day and also the condition of the second hand 33 seater minibus. If we estimate that you will get the vehicle at around 1.8M, I can approximate the same to bring home between 5—6,000Kes. This might not be the actual figures, like I said earlier; it will depended on the condition of the bus. Instead of a second hand minibus, I would recommend you buy two 14 seaters approximately 1.6m. They will each give you a minimum of 3500 Kes Daily that is 7000 per day.
11. >. I live in Kisumu and My most burning question is how much does a brand new 33 seater cost visa vis a second hand. I have 1.2M and am spoilt for choices to go for either a 33 seater or 14 seater, that is if am able to acquire the loan from NIC bank.
Secondly, am thinking of kisumu – busia rout (400/= one way, about 120km apart). Please show me some real (not ideal) calculations so as not to raise my hopes so high on profit margins.

Price for NQR 33 seater brand new and payment plan is as follows. The selling price for a 33 seater Isuzu NQR is ksh4,827,000.You are required to pay a deposit of ksh.968,400.The bank finance upto 80% at 8.7 flat rate. The monthly installment is ksh.135,265 for 3years.So the total interest adds up to ksh.1,007,000.
See 16 and 17 below for an actual {not Ideal} breakdown.

12. >Thanks a lot for such informative n educative thread….am planning to venture on matatu business but second hand.
Kindly advice the best matatu, Nissan to buy coz i hear kuna Toyota caravan n shark..And others..Which is best…all in all what one has to check to find if the matatu is good..coz i hear my friend bought one but after had an issue with number plate with kra.
There are two models of 14 seaters that are currently in the market and have been approved by the governing Authority. The Toyota 5Litre engine, diesel and Nissan caravan. Toyota 5L model is the most common even though it is no longer registered. The last of its type was manufactured in 2003 and that is over ten years ago. Our laws on importation of used vehicles limits up to ten years. This model is now replaced by a more modernized Toyota 7L Diesel: and custom made Nissan {box}.
As for issues to do with proof of ownership; you should first do a check/search at NTSA/ KRA- if you have any doubts, don’t buy.
13. >Hi Wambururu! I hve 1m cash and am interested in owning a 33 seater Minibus can i get a finance option frm a bank, which is the best Bank or institution ? Pliz advise.
Yes it is possible to get finance from banks as long as you can assure them that you are able to pay back the loan and also if you can afford the deposit. Most banks finance up to 70%. The tricky part is that you have to have operated a business account for minimum of six months showing deposits equivalent to the monthly installments. What I mean is; for a bank to give you a loan to buy a public service vehicle, you need to have an alternative income that can continue paying the loans in case the matatu breaks down.
14. >Thanks 4 wonderful teaching God bless u.my question it is a good idea to buy 14 seater Toyota second hand about 250k to 300k replace with new egn + gearbox so that i can be on safe side in terms maintenance and how much do i need plz?
A new 5l engine for Toyota shark costs around 350,000 and the gear box costs about 50,000 – 60,000.If you were to give it a fresh coat of paint and probably some interior work, seats covers.\, belts, music system etc, you will need about 60—80,000. In total you will require approximately half a million shillings. Add this to the purchasing price and you end up spending about 850,000 KES.
15. >Hi Wambururu,
I really like your honest and informative answers.I would like to know how much (minimum] one may need to go for a loan for a 33 seater mini bus and where to start, is it GM or a particular Sacco or bank?
If I am new in Matatu business and i want to learn is it advisable to start with a second hand 14 seater or a 33 seater on financing?
For your first question on cost of a 33 seater, see answer for question {11} above.
And again i think you should start low. What I mean is, start with a 14 seater, run it for six months or so and understand the business, then you can decide whether you wish to invest in a 33 seater.

16. >I’m interested in investing in transport business. Toyota 5L used is my target, currently I can raise about 800k. My concern is, First I’m out of the country for a period of time and the management of this venture is dreadful to say the least. Second, my view is a long term investment by ploughing back the proceeds into the venture.. At certain point you mentioned about registering a venture to manage this profitable but highly risk business. Now in the view of these circumstances, what assurance do I have from you personally as a manager and confidant regarding safeguarding my interest..
It might appear like a high risk business but it is not such. Matatu investment is a public service provision business that has very good returns. Below is monthly review for a 14 seater.
JANUARY 2015
KAY —–X. ———————————— 14 SEATER

REG.NO.
  1st   2nd   3nd     4th         5th         6th          7th           TOTAL

3500   3500   3500   3500     3000     ——        2000         19.000
  8th    9th    10th    11th      12th        13th      14th
  3500   3500  3500   3000     3500       3300   3000         23.300
15th   16th   17th    18th      19th        20th      21st
1000   3500   3300   3500   3300       3500      2000        19.900
22nd   23nd   24th   25th     26th       27th       28th
    3500   3500   1000   3500   2500   3200      3000        20.200
29th   30th   31st.
….  2900    3500                                                          6 .400
TOTAL = 88.800
EXPENSES.
FULL SERVICE. {OIL/FILTER/PADS/ DIESEL FILTER/ ELEMENTS/ GREASE.}= 5.300
ALIGNMENT.= 1200                                REAF SPRING.=1500
BUSHES.=600                                       LABOR.=1500
NEW MID-RANGE SPEAKER.= 3500      INSURANCE.= 7800
WELDING REPAIR. = 1000                    WIRE/ COMPENSATION = 4000
PARKING KAJIADO.= 1500                    NOZZLES SERVICE .= 3000
PARKING NRB.= 3600

TOTAL .= 32.500.00
GROSS INCOME .= 88.800.00
LESS EXPENSES= 32.500.00
NET INCOME= 56.300.00.
As your manager, I will be sending you a bank slip for the net income and also give you the breakdown. Alternatively, we can agree I be depositing a flat rate of 50.000 kes per month and take care of maintenance and all expenses, insurance parking, servicing and replacing minor parts.
17. >Thank you But is it a guarantee that they can pay up the loan on themselves because I have seen banks repossessing some of these buses and that might be a problem.. And on another note, is it advisable to take two 37 seater buses or put a deposit on a bigger bus and which Company/sacco would you advice..
Buses have high capacity and yes it is true they carry more passengers; but in matatu business especially short distance routes, they don’t attract more customers-pasengers still prefer low capacity vehicles that fill easily and are faster. Fare price also differs and by large margins.
A 51 seater bus plying nrb Rongai routes make four return trips in a day at an average fare price of 40 kes.{ 50 passengers X 40 Kes X 4 trips X 2 {return}= 16,000 Kes.
Fuel is = 4500-5000. Sacco contribution + police, touts, etc= 2,000, salaries= 3,000. Net income is about 6,000.
A 33 seater{ MANYANGA} minibus does 7 return trips at an average of 60 kes, ={ 32 passengers X 60 kes X 7 trips X 2 {return}= 26880.
Fuel is= 6,500—7,000. Sacco contribution+ police and normal expences = 4000. Salaries= 4000. Net income is between 10—11000Kes.

18. >Pls am from Ghana and i want to start a matatau transport business in Kenya. Pls i want to know if it is possible for a non Kenya can invest in the business. And how much is the Kenya shillings to one US DOLLAR. Thank u
I don’t think it would be a problem to invest { although I’m not sure about what the law says; but I know some foreigners who have bought rental houses and public service buses; as long as you are not the driver- you can surely invest in the industry and get your money at you bank just like anyother investor. One US Dollar is exchanging @ 90 KES. To put a brand new 33 seater minibus that meets the current market on the road, you will require about 59.000 US Dollars.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

 

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Addiction and the chaos in the matatu sector.

When the matatu welfare association forwarded my name to NACADA for a TOT training on Alcohol and Drugs Abuse {ADA}. I felt like i was the wrong person for this training. I could not see any connection between Road safety and workers welfare which is my specification at the association and the National Campaign Against Drug Abuse{ NACADA }. If at all, I was partaking on one of the substance Nacada was campaigning against. More so, i did not think that going back to class was the best option considering the timing of the training and another meeting at KIPPRA where I represent hundreds of matatu drivers under the KENYA CIVIL SOCIETY NETWORK FOR NMT AND ROAD SAFETY. I had all the reasons to seek for an excuse not to attend the training but, I didn’t.

Come the day we were to report at the college for registration and i packed my learning gear and headed to Karen. I’m really glad i did; By the end of the week, i was so sure i know the reason we have all these chaos and mismanagement in the matatu sector. It had never occurred to me that Alcohol and Drugs could be responsible for most of the miseries workers in the public transport service sector had gone through and continue to suffer from. I listened keenly as facilitators skillfully opened our minds to the reality that addiction is causing havoc in the life’s of Kenyans,- affecting every area of our livelihood and our personal health.

I had always thought that chewing MIRAA, smoking weed and a few tots of whiskey was a cool thing and also a boost to our performance since our jobs require a lot of focus, determination and recklessness that can only be described as bordering insanity. This three substances have been the source of that courage for many a matatu driver to a curtain point that- they have become accepted as part of our lifestyle. But as i sat in that lecture room listening to expert talk about alcohol and drugs and their effects on the users, I could connect every explanation with somebody i know or have worked with in the matatu industry.

When the lecturer talked about Alcohol, i could see many alcoholics by name, the life they are leading, the consequences of their choices and the direction addiction had taken their life’s. when they talked about inhalants, i was finally able to connect the -teenage deaths- of many street children who come to collect plastic bottles from our buses with the glue they sniff. I had notice a certain pattern where many of the street kids die young or develop permanent mental illness. The issue of MIRAA chewing really surprised me and I’m still very deeply concerned about the effects of this substance that is legally available across the country with no restriction in producing, processing and sale.

Miraa {twigs} and muguka {the leaves} cause more damage to the user that marijuana  and  cigarettes combined. Like the bible writer had posed it; WHAT IS THE PROFT OF GAINING THE WHOLE WORLD AND LOSING YOU SOUL IN THE PROCESS? the same is true for those abusing these products of the evergreen CATHAEDUIIS tree. Many who innocently chew on the substance  to stay alert and work more hours behind the wheels are at the same time working their way to self destruction and endangering the survival of their species.Miraa is said to have grave and irreversible effect on the reproductive system causing impotence. This alone is reason enough to break hundreds of homes as is evident in majority of users. other effects included patched up sleep that catches up with the driver while on the road resulting to serious accidents.

Matatu industry has the highest number of drug abuser in all public services sectors in our country. In my 14yrs behind the wheels i have experienced and experimented on most of this substances.many of us chew miraa to work long shifts and like i said, our job description require focus determination and confidence. Marijuana is the drug of choice for many as it gives the user a sense of well being, bravely, confidence and allow us to exhibit recklessness that is next to madness. The false confidence and false bravely mixed with other long term effect of the drug like, sudden panic, poor judgment, and paranoia [ unreasonable fear} can be associated with hundreds of accidents that goes unreported where matatu owners agree to compensate the affected party to avoid involving the police as their driver is intoxicated and also the one to blame for the accident.

Since receiving the training, i have been engaging my comrades into discussions on the effects of alcohol and drugs and to my surprise, many are those who are suffering in silence. it is extremely painful to watch a loved one or somebody you know very well destroy his/her life; but this is the position many of us are forced to take when a chemically dependent loved one or a friend denies having a problem with substances. If any, majority of us condemn the affected instead of understanding that addiction is a disease; we blame them for having a problem with morals.

Any government institution ,NGO or civil society willing to bring sanity and order on our roads especially the matatu sector must look at the issue of drug abuse as a contributing factor in the mismanagement of the trade and be willing to help and give hope to the affected. a calculated approach aimed at healing and reconciliation will go a long way in ending the chaos and confusion in the matatu sector and in the long run reduce accidents by a very big margin. Tackling the drugs and substances abuse in the matatu sector is not an easy task but that is not to say it is impossible. The reason being that majority of those using the substances are already hooked or addicted and have a long history of dependency on the drug unlike students or the youth in learning institutions. The national Government must look at the big picture and find a long term solution to this menace.

Another area that will require a closer look and more serious approach is the area of counseling for drivers who have been through tragic accidents. There are many who are suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and many take to drugs and or alcohol to seek reprieve. Once hooked to drugs dependency , it becomes very hard to come out. Recovery from addiction is a long road that requires almost the same treatment as chronic diseases; this is an expensive journey that most matatu workers will never travel. Recovery from addiction can only be achieved through a combination of self-management, mutual support and professional help. To accomplish this task we must stop looking at it as a problem affecting matatu workers and start looking at it as a problem affecting the society.

 
 

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Please Retrain PSV drivers. No one is safe.

The fourteen seater; matatu may as well be on its way out and we have started to see brand new vehicles on the road; That is evident today with the way investors are buying 33 seaters and if the china’s deal with President Kenyatta will bring other investors in to the field, we will see more sofisicated model of public transport. We welcome this new change that is surely more attractive and comfortable than the Nissan matatus we have had for years.
But that is not all. it is not yet time for Kenyans to relax and expect too much change.I don’t want to break anybody’s spirit but I would like to tell everybody to hope for the best but leave a room for the worst; Early this morning, an accident involving a passenger service bus helding to far eastern from the capital has so far claimed 40 lives and over thirty are seriously injured. The policy makers are meeting at a location near the scene of the accident do discuss various ways of reducing tragic road accidents involving passengers service vehicle. among the agendas to be discussed is banning long distance public service vehicles from operating at night.

I remember how people had so much confidence in the new Government and were up in arms to fight corruption among other evils the Moi regime was accused of.Kenyans refused to pay bribe and even went as far as apprehending traffic cops who were demanding bribe from matatu drivers.

It was therefore a rude shock to witness what happened five years later,private companies were contracted and given monopoly to import gadgets; the new by-laws required for all matatus.Workers were then required to deposit advance tax with the Kenya revenue authority to be issued with badges. Anybody found without the card was immediately arrested and taken to court.It was Uhuru Kenyatta who came to our rescue when he took over as the minister for finance and abolished advance tax for would be matatu workers.

Today, Everyone is excited about the Nissan matatus paving the way and taking all their bad habits with them. I know, majority are wishing that we evaporate into the thin air sooner never to be heard again; so that we can leave them in peace; but i have news for you. We are only changing the costume,but we are retaining the priesthood. The smaller matatus are not to blame for overlapping, overtaking-{ even when they see an approaching vehicle}- or for driving on the side walks; It is the drivers who do this things. Kenyan motorists should now expect to meet a seventy one seater bus overtaking on a blind corner.
What I’m trying to say is that; we need more than just bigger buses. The transport industry must reform its members if the change is to bear fruits.The tricky part will be in choosing who will drive the fewer buses and what will happen to the rest of us.Many people who earn their daily bread in the matatu industry will have to seek for alternative means of getting the bread while those who will get the fewer jobs will continue abstracting other motorists, overtaking, overlapping.

I’m not of the opinion that we call for national prayers for our driver to drive safely;I would prefer we re-train them. Changing the size of the vehicle is just like-washing the pig as written on the bible- we all know what will happen when the cleaned pig is set free.

The only measure that will bring sanity on our roads is when we decide to reach out and educate our drivers on traffic rules and regulations. Until then…….!

 
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Posted by on August 29, 2013 in ewaste, Its life, Matatu matters, Spiritual wisdom

 

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My Dad’s note that gave meaning to my day today’s life.

On the day I left home to go to the city to look for a job 15 yrs ago, I had no certificates or any recommendation.I had never been employed outside the family businesses. The only tool of trade that could help me get a job was my one year old driving license. My dad called me and asked me if i was ready to face the world on my own and i remember very well that i confidently told him i was ready to joining the matatu industry. That evening he gave me an envelop with 3000 Ksh rent. For my new-house and this message;“Everything depends on God’s Grace; To get His grace, Whatever Work You Perform, Do it with sincerity and Earnest Longing. Through His Grace, environment will be favorable and conditions for realizing your dreams will be perfect.” That was then.

Being a matatu driver and a blogger has opened a whole new world for Wambururu; A few years ago, I never could have thought I would ever set foot in places i have visited on official invitations and met people I’ve met.My blog has of late started to compete in earnings with my driver’s job and this is good news i would wish to share with all of you who read of this blog. It is quite an interesting way of making a living especially for somebody who was used to sitting behind the wheels of a public service vehicle for 15 hours to make 10 dollars, now turned to a FIXER.

I got this title -FIXER- from an American photo journalist who had contacted me to help him find the perfect locations for a story he was working on. The deal was that I will take him wherever he wanted to go in his research and he would compensate me fully for the time i could have alternatively be sitting behind the steering of my matatu. He told me that people who do that for foreign journalists are called Fixers. And a fixer i became.

We started our trail to find out what happens to electronics in Kenya and especially Nairobi once they are no longer useful. The code name of the project was “e-Waste” We started off at Dadora dump site as we had been directed by a report from a UN agency.- {the only available current data in the internet, about ewaste: last updated in 2009.} The report and also a section of the media report, had warned that the electronic waste was becoming a healthy hazard to citizens living near the dump-site; as some of the components used to make computers are a big risk and can even cause diseases like cancer.

A lot must have changed since the time the report was posted, as by the time we got there, there was not a single electronic item in the dump-site.With that in mind, my contract with the photo journalist would have to be extended if ever he was to know the truth. What we were looking for was not in the dump-site. Those we asked told us that such items do not end up in the dump and even the ones that do get there are instantly collected and resold to buyers who camp at the site buying anything with value.

My American friend could not believe that he had followed a not so accurate data about the health hazard in Kenya, said to be caused by ewaste. To get the facts collect, we tracked down one of the Garbage tracks and organized for him to ride in the track the whole day as it did it’s round and follow the trash all the way to the dump-site. It was a smelly ride and also an eye opener for the ewaste research. He discovered that- garbage collectors have one or two of their own, who’s main job is to go through all the trash that is loaded in the track and sort out any resell-able item like, Metals, plastic, electronics etc.before they dump at Dadora. With nothing from the main dump-site, we had to come up with another approach. For the whole time he rode in the track, he did not see a single electronic waste. This could only mean one thing, nobody was throwing away the items.

The next step was to trace where most of the waste could be generating from and find out what happens between the trash bin and the dump-site. The most obvious place to start would be the repair shops  who have the final word on the fate of any electronic device. We started in the CBD and went all the way to River Road- We stop at many repair shops and all those we asked told us that there are collectors who come to their workshops and buy the stuff. Mobile phone’s and computer’s “mother boards” were the most sort after of all electronics as they fetched good prices.

A visit to National Environment Management Authority did not yield much as the institution is only mandated with registration and issuance of licenses to waste collectors. As we tracked the ewaste from the dump-site through repair shops, we ended up in go-downs in Ngala and Baba Ndogo in Nairobi upper industrial Area- we came across fully established big companies with foreign expertise and employees, modern offices dealing in exporting the electronics waste out of the country. The contract lasted a couple of days and when he was satisfied, he flew back to his country and left a very happy fixer.

This was not the first time i was offering my services to journalist; although previously, i did not get any money from them; if anything, I had to spend my own cash for transport and meals as we worked on television and newspaper stories. I have previewed articles, books, assisted in editing documentaries and arranged transportation for cast and crew to filming locations among other tasks.. My helping hand, I have taught me many drills when it comes to film production. Also through the blog i have been contacted to arrange and offer transportation for International journalists, researchers, university students from across the world and local learning institutions. I have had my 5 minutes of fame in a local popular  television Drama “papa shiradula” My writing and documentaries have been used by teachers and students in Sweden and Moscow. and a short film about my career as a matatu driver is currently competing at the Guinness film festival in France.

The events of my life and career has left most of my friends in the matatu industry wondering, surprised, and questioning my intentions. Also IT experts are advising me on publishing my popular blog on my own domain- web-site. I hear that i might be making some few extra coins from GOOGLE. That is also good news. When i think about all that has happened and what is happening today, i can only thank my dad for the words he share with me that have come to pass in my own life.

 

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The Matatu Driver.

{For a special friend}

if you are seeking self knowledge and self mastery, you must deal with things as they really are not as you might want them to be, you must comfort and embrace your shadows,you must even befriend them and love them, you must see who and what they really are within you, you must fulfill their needs just as you fulfill the needs of others, you must assuage their fears and anxieties,reassure and comfort them, in so doing you will be ministering to yourself for they are you,the total you.
Does this include those of us who work in the matatu industry?

.I have been on this job for the past ten years, i am one of those you just love to hate, i work in the industry that is currently the backbone of raising illegal tax money for illegal organized groups.
I as the matatu driver, has been useful and used but so badly abused but still i am pushing through, because i just know that this tusk has to be carried out,Perhaps you don’t have any idea what its like to be the black sheep of the country like we the matatu crews have been made to look and feel.
Let me explain, we[matatu drivers] take our jobs seriously,we know the risks and the benefits of this job, we wake up before three every morning to bring milk to Nairobi,from there we take officers [cops] who have been on night duties home, from there we bring newspaper vendors to work then kiosk operators and company drivers, from there we come for your kids and their teachers and drop them to school, by the time you get to the office, your secretary is behind her desk, and the tea girl is doing her nine o’clock round, you can also hear sounds of men at work coming from the warehouse. After we are done with you, we go back to your house,we take your housewife/houseboy to their secret lovers.
by ten o’clock, the patients have started filling bus stops needing to be taken to hospitals, then comes Sunday and the entire Christian community depends on us, i don’t know the reason why those who live in the west go to churches in the East and those in the East to the west but all the same most of them are not yet blessed with personal cars so we help them go to meet their maker,the pastors ought to pray for us seeing we are partakers in their missionary work but its them who call a curse on us for missing the Sunday service, we are only lucky that God is not restricted by religion otherwise we could be the most cursed human beings in the face of the earth.
This are the same words i used to explain to a Al Jazeera journalist who did the documentary THE RELUCTANT OUTLAW.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbCtgQip0qk A 25 minute video that was aired for 5 days on Al jazeera network. it shows the real life behind a matatu driver.
For now, we are just average Kenyans working hard to see vision 2030 come to reality. we know its not easy to be 100% committed to the truth but we are trying, while holding on to the words of wisdom left by Jesus in the book of MATT. 5.44, love your enemies, bless them that curse you,do good to them that hates you,and pray for them that despite fully use you and persecute you.

 

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The women of my life

The international women  day marked is hundredth anniversary this year. Congratulation all mothers and girls  all over the world on this international day of recognition. I feel a personal responsibility to  recognize the women who have made my life what it is and have continued to support me over the years. On average I’m an everyday Kenyan hustling in the matatu industry, trying to raise a family. On the other hand, I have a dream of becoming the voice, for my brothers who work in the matatu industry.

As our mothers and sisters celebrate their day, I wish to show my appreciation to the following beautiful women.

My Mother.

For as long as the gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached the name Mary will always be mentioned and given a special place in the hearts of men, and so it shall be for my mother and all mothers,depending on the outcome of our life’s.The bible tells me that God knew me before he formed me in my mother’s womb, that tells me that God knew my mother before He formed that child in side her body. Today is a big day for you mama God loves you so.

Mwalimu Wanjiru.

I was reading the scriptural story of the childhood of Jesus Christ and there was this story  of how it came to pass that, Joseph decided to take Jesus to school after bowing to pressure from neighbors and close associates. He and Mary prepared Jesus and took him to school (to learn his numbers}.

Upon being interviewed, the school master asked Jesus to say; alpha – and Jesus repeated- alpha. The school master then told him to say Beta; but Jesus refused, no matter how much the teacher asked him to repeat, he refused and asked the teacher to tell him what Alpha means before going to Beta.The teacher thought the young Jesus was being rude and picked a stick to strike him, but his hand became withered. Jesus then explained to the school master all the alphabet, from the first to the last, their meaning and the reason they are place in that order. The school master told Joseph, ”this Kid needs no education he seems to be wise than Noah who built the ark

Mwalimu wanjiru was my school master at Gikambura primary school between the year 1981 and 1989 and since I was not  Jesus, I had to go through the system to learn my numbers. it is because of her efforts that this article is written in English. Where ever she is ; God bless her.

Yvonne Owuor.

If there is anything that makes us equal, forget the beer commercials that says, that  a certain brand of beer makes us equal and has no equal. The real thing that brings two ,would never have met, people together is a taxi. This is how I met her. The renowned writer and a senior academic staff at Aga khan university appeared in my life just  Like the Phillip appeared to the Ethiopian  and the Ethiopian was baptized. Our belief time together got me thinking about giving writing and the use of words the respect they deserve. where ever she is, home or abroad God bless her.

My wife.

The bible says that , soon after creation, God saw that man was lonely and always by himself, he caused him to sleep and a lib was taken from him that formed the woman. Since then, and for as long as we shall keep this body, man will never be complete without a woman by his side. My wife is the only woman who comes  closer to replacing my lib. God bless her too.

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2011 in Spiritual wisdom

 

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