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Cost of owning a 33 seater minibus in Nairobi.

MATATU INVESTMENT.
Matatu is a name associated with Kenya public transport sector referring mostly to the low capacity public service vehicles. Over the years, this sector has remained chaotic and mismanaged and many investors have kept a distance. But since public transport is more of a basic requirement, and people need to move from one point to another, the demand for public means of transport has continuously increased and provision of the same has remained one of the most rewarding investments in terms of returns to those already in the business.
WHICH MODEL IS THE BEST?

The Government has been in the process facing-out lower capacity public service vehicles {14 seater Vans} in all urban centers especially in the capital Nairobi- it has been a continuing program for the last Eight years- investors are now going for minibuses with a capacity of 33 and 47 seaters respectively.

Different vehicle Manufactures have come up with several models to fill the gap, ISUZU — MITSUBISH -TOYOTA DYNA — HINO — TATA — HYUDAI – Nissan UD {Swara} — FOTON etc.

ISUZU NQR remains the biggest contender in the minibus category especially the 25—29 and 33 seater capacity. General Motors the manufactures of Isuzu has been selling buses across the country for many years and their different modes have worked for Kenyan roads. The availability of genuine and affordable spare parts is also an added advantage to buyers.

Hino is making a grand comeback in the passengers transport services. SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe 33 seater Hino minibus is giving Isuzu quite a worthy challenge especially in the Manyanga {soaped up} category. With the fancy bodies, it is hard to tell the difference between an Isuzu and a Hino. Although there is still room for improvement, this model has most of the important features that are ideal for Matatu business.

CAPITAL,

To own either of the two popular minibuses, you need an estimated capital of 5 million Kenya shillings. You can pay cash or get finance through lenders either a bank or savings and credit cooperative societies.
For cash buyers- the requirements are as follows.
 Chassis/ cabin. =sh 3,502,000
 Manyanga body. = ksh.1.2 {depending in features}
 Registration number plate= ksh15, 000.
 Advance tax @ksh, 720 per seat= ksh 23,760.
 Comprehensive insurance cover = ksh 450,000.
 Music system advanced = ksh. 150,000.
 Sacco registration & tlb license.= ksh. 20,000.00
TOTA L. =Ksh. 5,360,760.

RETURNS
The fare from Rongai to Nairobi is 100 peaks and 50 off peaks- on average the minibus makes six return trips to and from Nairobi. The average income per trip is between 3300— 4000 shillings; for six return trips the crew will collect sh 19,800,00
 Fuel is equivalent to 1000 per return trip—in a day a total of Ksh 6,000 will go to fuel.
 Salaries for the driver and conductor rage between 3,000—- 4000 shillings depending on terms of employment.
 Other expenses are; parking
 car wash
 Sacco contribution-= 500— 1000. Depending on the sacco.
 On average a 33 seater manyanga makes a net income of between 9,000—10,000 per day i.e. after all expenses have been deducted from the gross income including fueling & salaries.
 Most drivers work six days a week and rest on Sunday on average the minibus works for 27 days in a month and makes 270,000.
Monthly expenses include INSURANCE, PARKING FEE and SERVICING.

DURABILITY.
A brand new minibus is more productive in the first three years- during that period it can maintain the target of 9000 Kenya shillings per day; but the income drops in the fourth year by slight margin- of between Ksh.7,000- 8,000. Despite the drop on returns this bus can and will give you service for a minimum 7 years.

MANAGEMENT.
A Matatu owner has the right to employ a trustee/ manager of his choice to run the daily affairs of the van; it is however recommended that investors seek the services of qualified managers/ management agencies. This helps in setting a target which is sustainable and eases the burden for the owner.
1. The agency maintains control and costs incurred by each of the managed vehicle and must record / report to the owner of any malfunction or mechanical problem noticed on any vehicle.
2. It is the duty of the fleet manager to see to it that a file is kept containing all documents related to each vehicle such as Accidents reports, insurance, repair charts, and road licenses.

SURVIVAL IN THIS BUSINESS
For those who want to go it alone, there is of-cause the protection fee. This last bit is necessitated by corruption in the traffic department. 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 however you may hate corruption; even when your Matatu has complied with all government requirements. The traffic police department is the regulator and most of them see the industry as their cash cow; there are police officers who will look for reasons or even obscure offense and place it on your crew and this will cost you dearly. It is therefore important to bear in mind that they also have a share of your cake and this might have a very significant role in the success or failure of your investment.
For more information.. wambururu@gmail.com
To book an appointment call: +254 724 384 676

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Posted by on December 8, 2015 in Its life, matatu investment, Matatu matters

 

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Bring Back “NYAYO BUSES’

The Matatu industry has for many years been associated with road accidents, recklessness-corruption and lawlessness. It is an industry that is most citied for lack of management and no procedures. These include no schedules, poor working conditions for workers, fluctuating fares, undesignated stops, cartels, and harassment.
Despite all this, Matatu industry is a major Economy booster; creating direct and indirect employment to thousands of diverse vehicle owners, Matatu Saccos, management companies, drivers, touts, route managers, mechanic; and a source of livelihood and investment opportunity for hundreds of Kenyans working in insurance companies, Tracking Companies and spare parts dealers among others.
Today we have a more improved road network. The demand for transport has increased tremendously with mass movement to urban areas. But the current state of transport system in Kenya is still wanting;
• What is lacking ?
What we are yet to see is the GoK coming in as investors; owning and operating public service transport. It is very possible. The idea was tested During the Nyayo Era- Earlier in late 80’s {1988 to be precise.} President Moi in an effort to create cheaper alternative for the commuting population started a state owned bus service (Nyayo Bus Service Corporation). Under the umbrella of the National Youth Service {currently led by CS for Devolution} the Government of the day imported buses from Italy and Belgium and in under a year they were controlling a fleet of over 300 buses Serving in most of the city routes. This venture went down; not because it wasn’t resourceful, but because of mismanagement and corruption.
What the National government can do to tame the market is bring in state owned buses”. They will Charge lower fares than the competitors and still make lots of profit, because (1) they {NYS} have subsidies in fuel and (2) they can easily import spare parts for the buses in an environment of foreign exchange restrictions. (3) they have availability of manpower; drivers and conductors will be sourced from the institution at no extra expense. And (3) All the buses will operate on NYS logo and this will mean more disciplined/ trained PSV operators. Since it will be run by a government institution we are likely to see an end to corruption on the road.
An estimated 70% or more of the Kenyan work force live in the outskirts of the capital and use public service vehicles to go to work and vice versa. These include colleges and universities students {since most of these learning institutions are located in the cities or have branches in the capital.} Also majority of small scale traders buy their merchandise in the capital and sell in rural areas. Farmers too rely on public transport to get their produce to the market. The only available alternative means of public transport is Motor cycles, salon cars /taxi, and bicycles which takes care of only a small percent leaving most of the passengers to the matatus.

The current transport market is still dominated by 14 seater vans. Although there has not been any new 14 seater licensed for town service in the last 8 years since the Government restricted licensing; Many of those that were licensed in that year going back are still in operation. The average Matatu is 8—9yrs old. {This is not the year of manufacture since most of these vehicles are second hand imported from Dubai and Japan.}
Most of the 33 seater minibuses are newer; but they are mostly on town service routes. We have some routes that have brand new vehicles registered as early as this year. In most urban town centers we have new and locally assembled Matatu joining the industry; there are those that are fitted with spacious seats, powerful music systems, CCTVand wi-fi ; they are locally referred to as “manyanga”.
Passengers pay more for these new buses even when the cheaper ones are available. Newer buses are modern, which means they are more advanced in-terms of comfort, speed and safety.

Recent changes in government institutions that engage with operators in the Matatu sector has brought about renewed hope of finding a lasting solution to the public transport problem that is common in most urban towns in Kenya. By bringing together various government institutions under the National Transport and Safety Authority {NTSA}, the Government intended to make it easier to monitor and regulate public transport in the country.
The fragmentation that existed before, did not allow room for accountability. Thus, creating points of collusion where individuals who are employed by the regulatory agencies {especially police officers} joined the industry and own vehicles, which operate at an advantage. This is what causes tension among operators and increases the level of noncompliance to rules and regulations paving the way for lawlessness and corruption.

 

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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Using ICT to address employment and safety in the matatu sector.

The use of new information and communications technology{ICT} has been applied in many ways in various fields to collect data, improve lifestyles and most important to avert disasters. Data collection for whatever reason is the first step to winning any warfare. We have seen modern ICT being used by our military as they battle terrorists in Somalia. The use of remote controlled drones for surveillance and even to launch missile attacks in high risk targets has become an effective tool of war with very positive result.
The same is happening in the public transport sector thanks to A group of Researchers from Nairobi university in collaborations with their counterparts in university of California at Berkeley in the US. The team has come up with a new technology that will probably provide a better approach that could be used to leverage the positive aspects of both the investors input; and workers performance; by providing reliable data that can be the key to improved safety, accessibility and efficiency.
David is a researcher from university of California at Berkeley USA and he has been in the country on several occasions for his research. I was introduced to David sometimes last year by one Professor from UON for a interview request. He wanted me to help him Access some of the stakeholders in the matatu sector for his research. When we started, David was more interested in monitoring and measuring corruption in the matatu industry. but after several meetings with drivers- conductors and managers- he soon realized, however, that the matatu industry is much more than a simple transfer of commuters.
This highly unappreciated industry is a fascinating expression of African entrepreneurship that has evolved into a multimillion investment; creating employment for more than a hundred thousand Kenyans and the only optional source of mobility {other than walking} for millions of people who rely on public transport every day. I teamed up with David and with a lot of support from university of California at Berkeley in America and our friends from university of Nairobi, we set out to clearly understand this vicious cycle that shapes the nature of public service operations in Kenya especially Nairobi.
According to our findings after numerous interviews with the stakeholders; majority of drivers complained of working long hours, and incentivized with high-revenue targets that they have to meet every single day. Lack of formal employment was also another obstacle for many workers {meaning no job security, no pay-slip, no insurance, no access to finance,} and therefore no stable career path to the middle class. They said they are rarely appreciated for their services despite doing their best.
Matatu owners on the other hand complained of driver’s recklessness and rude-mannered behaviors. Listening to majority of these owners, one would be persuaded to ask “why they even hire their vehicles to these drivers in the first place” if they don’t trust them at all. I know for a fact that this is just a myth and one that matatu owners have chosen to hold on to;since it is beneficial to them. by  avoiding taking full responsibility for their employees, they get away with paying taxable salaries and they can hire and fire them at will. Clearly, not all drivers are saints, and again not all drivers are reckless, what was lacking was prove..
David was more convinced that, the dispute; the hostility and suspicion could be addressed. We had identified miscommunication or lack of tangible facts as one of the sources of the problems. and by bridging the communication gaps; we could find a way to enhance the flow of factual information between the workers and the owners. According to him, a solution could be found with the introduction of new information and communication technology to the matatu sector.
We started out a pilot project codenamed “SMART-MATATU; where we fitted 10 Matatus {plying Rongai to Nairobi Route} with a top of the range and well supported Web- Based GPS Tracking device. This system offers wide range of Fleet Management Solutions that gives the matatu owners full control of their fleet and access to their vehicles from any location. Through a computer or smart mobile phone, the System enables the user to; know the vehicle’s real-time position by time interval, Receive alerts for off-road driving, over speeding, sudden breaking and various driving behaviors’ alerts. The system has a Geo-fenced control to regulate movement boundaries; it records the number of trips made to and from the destination and also kilometers covered at any given time.
Advantages v/s disadvantages.
Three months down the line, we have managed to sustain the project; though with lots of challenges. At the same time; we have also shared the findings and got feedback from matatu owners and drivers respectively. The project has had its casualties and beneficiaries. One driver and his conductor were fired when they were caught by police working past the hours; after lying to the owner that they had closed business. the crew abandoned the van but we were able to trace its location. This device is so unique compared to other tracking devices since it has specifically been designed to track driving behaviors; the owner can be able to tell at what time the engine starts running and when it was switched off, When a driver over speeds on speed bumps, exceed speed limits, overlapping, driving off-road or when he diverts to a different route.
On the other hand matatu owners are pleased with the device since they can now be able to know the actual number of trips the matatu makes to and from Nairobi and also compare driving style for different drivers. This will in the long run create trust and most important a better relationship between the owner and the workers. Some of the owners we interviewed told us that they would have no problem employing their drivers on permanent basis now that they know they can trust them.

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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Let us make laws that we can implement and sustain.

Kenya is still ranked as a third world country. As much as We {Kenyans} don’t love or feel comfortable being referred as a 3nd world, we cannot escape this classification since it is not based on what we would wish’ but what we have done compared to other nations of the earth.
We may be building standard gauge railways and probably subways are on the way, Its true, these infrastructures will indeed; push us forward toward escaping the ratings, ease how we travel and communicate and make our country more attractive to other developed nations. But as it stands today we are still a 3nd world.
Our president is leading from the front and we all admire his confidence, we are encouraged by his determination to get us out of the woods, not only for us Kenyans but for Africa as a whole. His call for African solution for Africa’s problems is a pointer to finding lasting solutions to local problems in the continent and even here at home.
Since the Jubilee government come to power, law makers have been very busy making and amending laws. Almost every law in the constitution has been challenged, amended or changed; Media freedom, security, bills of rights, and” of course”  “Traffic act.”
I was among the invited participants to a discussion on the proposed amendments to section 42 of the traffic act {cap 403} this is an act of our traffic laws that deals with safety of children. The bill was tabled in parliament by honorable Member of Parliament for Laisami Joseph Kuton. The bill which is in its third reading in parliament and {according to Hon. Kuton} it will soon be passed to law if the president is okay with it.
The forum was organized by Kenya Alliance for Residents Association {KARA}; National Transport and Safety Authority {NTSA} and Columbia University center for urban Development Among other institutions. The speakers included the deputy Director of safety at NTSA Dr. Duncan kibogong; Institute of legislative affairs CEO Vincent Kimosop, center for sustainable urban development; Dr Jackie Kropp, the sponsor of the bill Hon. Joseph kuton and Kara director Dr. Henry … among others.
The amendments to this act seek to improve children’s safety within the boundaries of their learning institutions, and while on transit to and from schools and non school related activities. Majority of those in-attendances were very objective that this is the way to go. “When we were each asked what our individual expectations were, almost everyone including the media which was well represented was optimistic the bill should go through. On the other hand, I was a bit pessimistic.
I’ve heard it is said that; the devil is in the details.
Section 42 of the Traffic Act (hereinafter referred to as “the Principal Act”) is to be amended by inserting the following new subsections immediately after subsection (3)-

*(3A) A person shall not drive, or, being the owner or person in charge of a vehicle, cause or permit any other person to drive, any vehicle at a speed exceeding thirty kilometres per hour on any road within the boundaries of-
(a) A nursery, primary or secondary school;
(b) An institution where -children reside or normally access by children;
(c) A public playing ground which is normally accessed by children;
(d) An area used by children when crossing to and from school; or
(e) Any health facility.
A person who contravenes this section commits an offence and shall be liable to a fine of 50.000 KES or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 months or both.

I don’t have a problem with the speed limit; what I fail to understand is why? The act only prescribes a penalty or punishment to drivers and not to the Authorities responsible for ensuring that all the supporting infrastructures are in place before the law takes effect?

For instance; the act mandates the highway Authority to; erect and maintain traffic signs as prescribed in the Act so as plainly to indicate to drivers entering or leaving such roads or areas referred to under subsection (3A) where the thirty kilometers per hour speed limit restriction begins and ends;
They are also responsible for; electing, constructing and maintaining speed limiting road design features such as speed bumps or rumble strips, and traffic circles on the roads referred to under subsection (3A) at the areas specifically designated for pedestrian crossing or on any road within a built up area or any section of a road where forward visibility is short.
The highway authority should also Ensure that; traffic routes in the vicinity of nursery, primary or secondary schools and those giving access to the schools are planned, designed, equipped and maintained with safety features such as wide pavements, footpaths, cycle-tracks, roadside barriers, pedestrian crossings and underpasses and footbridges with appropriate signs and markings.

The absence of any of the above infrastructures can lead to violation of the act. I believe the highway authority or NTSA for that matter should also be held responsible and charged in court if an accident occurs or even when the said law is violated where they have not complied.

The other proposed amendment to the Traffic act is in section 1058.
(1) A person or institution shall not designate or use a vehicle for transporting children to and from school or school or non-school related activity unless the vehicle meets the prescribed standards. It gives the Cabinet secretary the overall responsibility of setting the prescribed standards
(2) Notwithstanding subsection (l), a vehicle designated for transporting children To or from school or for any non-school related activity when they are in a group shall be fitted with the prescribed child safety equipments! Design safety features or structures.
A person who, carries or permits another person to carry a child under the age of eight years, on board a vehicle shall ensure that-
(a) The vehicle is fitted with the prescribed child restraint device or Seat; and
(b) The child is always placed in the device or seat whenever on board a vehicle in accordance with the prescribed instructions or guidelines.
A person who being the owner, manager, teacher of a school or a driver of a used for vehicle transporting children, who authorizes or permits the use of a vehicle used for transporting children or is negligent to prevent contravention with this Act commits an offense and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding fifty thousand shillings or imprisoned for a term not exceeding two months or both.

This are the set of laws that every parent would wish to see passed; but as they say. Wishes are not horses, if they were, every beggar would own one.

If the proposed amendments goes through and become law, it will be illegal for a matatu to transport children. students are not among the matatu investors target group and  don’t think any investor will do anything about meeting the requirements or standards. And since Matatus do not meet the prescribed standards i.e. they don’t have child restraints or seats for children, it will be illegal to carry them.

What we need to first ask ourselves is; why do school going children use unsafe transport/ matatus in the first place?

In my observation as a matatu driver, majority of the school going children who go to school via public transport are those from free public schools. Quite a number of those are from the poor families who take advantage of free education and probably because those schools are quite a distance from home, the children must need transport. Most of these public schools don’t provide transport and that is where we as the matatu fraternity come in.
Matatus are probably the only affordable means/ option for majority of people in Kenya to travel long and short distances. This also includes the school going children who need to board Matatus to and fro school. We are the ones Head teachers call upon to provide transport to students during curriculum related activities like drama festivals, school trips, etc. and since the education ministry has not come up with alternative means of transport to meet this need, Matatus are left with the responsibility of providing the much needed services.
Kenya is a developing country which means, it does not have all the infrastructures or the means to sustain and fully implement this laws.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2015 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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Our persistence is proof that we have not been defeated.

Working in the public sector for the number of years that I have served in the Matatu industry has taught me very hard life’s lessons that I’m sure would have earn me a certificate in an institute of learning. I have talked about gross violation of almost everything about our job. Extortion; detentions; long working hours; low wages; Violence and myriads of other problems faced by operators of this very important public transport industry.
Since complaining is not the only thing I do in my service to my country, I joined other like minded persons from different counties for a three days seminar sponsored by the International transport federation ITF/FNV EAST AFRICA NORTHERN CORRIDOR STRATEGIC CAMPAIGN SKILLS SUB REGION SEMINAR. It was a great experience and quite encouraging even imagining that matatu workers are recognized and qualified to enjoy benefits enjoyed by drivers all over the world.

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The matatu fraternity which was represented by two independent unions benefited with a lot of attention from all the participants including top-level ITF officials who contributed ideas and possible partnership in resolving some of the issues and also advice on the best approach and possible tactics for addressing them.

The seminar helped to bring together different players in the transport sector in Kenya, {including Kenya LONG DISTANCE TRUCK DRIVERS AND ALLIED WORKERS UNION {KLDTDAWU}- MATATU WORKERS UNION- PUBLIC TRANSPORT OPERATORS UNION {PUTON}- AND TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION.{TWU}. It served as a catalyst for the formation of new network and partnership arrangements among the participating organizations for effective collaboration and support.

The matatu industry is probably the largest informal sector in this country; employing thousands of workers; sadly; with very little systematic management for employees affairs. The introduction of matatu Sacco’s was seen as pointer to the right direction in terms of, creating some form of employment/ job security for matatu workers but the results tell a different story.
Individual Worker’s hardheadedness, gangs and cartels controlling different routes and also corruption by higher authorities has been the biggest hindrance to bringing meaningful and beneficial reforms in this sector. Workers in this industry have had to put up, and for a very long time! Accept harsh working conditions and exploitation, in return, the industry has become a reserve for a special character of players; THE RELACTANT OUTLAWS.
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Unlike other workers in the wider transport industry anywhere in this country, matatu workers have never, at any time in the past been unionized or represented by workers unions like COTU and others. The absence of shop stewards and other relevant officers to campaign for workers rights and privileges; has also opened avenues for gross violations of labor laws.
The seminar was aimed at equipping transport workers unions with skills and strategies on how to approach various issues and the right tactics including campaign materials. Under the stewardship of international federations like the ITF; http://www.itfglobal.org matatu workers will soon see strong unions coming up to campaign for better working conditions, better pay, reduced working hours, paid leaves etc etc. Public transport operators Union. {PUTON}; has already started recruiting matatu workers to the union and has opened the way for other matatu workers based organizations and other civil society groups to follow.
The biggest challenge that these matatu workers unions with have to overcome is convincing their members that they indeed have a right to what pertains to their working environment and deserve better than what they are getting. For many years, matatu industry has been viewed by the majority as the black sheep and has enjoyed a lot of media attention although most of it negative.
With an estimated 30.000 Matatus that server Nairobi and its environs every single day, we can approximately put the number of workers; “drivers and conductors” at around 100.000 for the capital city alone. The number can rise to up to 300k if we include stage workers/ managers/ mechanics/ call boys and loaders. To win such a large following, Workers Unions need to work closely with the government, private sector and the media in carrying out civic education.
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Currently there are no defined structure/ mechanism to communicate with workers across the country. We will need to develop and implement a joint user awareness program for members to work with and engage with other members from every part of the country to sensitize and educate them on issues and benefits of trade unions. For a sustainable urban mobility, we need a defined job description for public service vehicles drivers. We need to remove the name informal and create permanent jobs for these very important drivers of our economy. It’s time for Kenyans to work together and bring the change they want to see in the public transport sector.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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useful, used and abused- matatu man.

It’s been four years since I started writing this blog; looking back, I can proudly say i have made a difference. I have convinced a number of Kenyans in the diaspora to invest in the transport industry and generate income here at home instead of sending handouts to relatives back home every now and then.This blog has helped quite a number of people find footing in the transport sector. This year alone,2014; I have met about five investors who came to OngataRongai and I have helped two to access asset finance from a bank and two have actually bought 33 seater minibuses cash at General motors. A doctor in Germany and a Kenyan working in Iraq have brought home over 10 million in cash; creating permanent employment to six persons and benefiting hundreds locally and not to mention thousands of shillings the government has made and will continue to earn in taxes.
One other thing I have learned through this forum is that, most people don’t wish to pay to get sound advice on investment opportunities; I really doubt if business consultants in this country do actually make any good money selling investment ideas. Not unless I’m doing things the wrong way or advising the wrong people. Of all those who have read and contacted me and those who have benefitted from my advice; maybe one or two has offered to pay for my transport to the meetings at the banks or to the car dealers despite the fact that I go to those meetings to introduce them to my connections who makes their dream of owning a beautiful Matatu on Kenyan roads come to reality.
Some, after accessing finance or actually buying the Matatu’s, marvel at their boosted financial ability and forget that there are those who stood in the gap, or as they say- those who helped them up the mountain.- What hurts me the most and I’m really saddened; are those who come to me as first time investors and very new in the matatu industry. We hold meetings in hotels and through one way or the other we agree to team up and shop for and buy a matatu.
As soon as I introduce them to the route and they get to meet other players,they are somehow tempted by the corrupt elements in the matatu sector with promises of security and police protection and unrealistic of higher incomes. They are introduced to shortcuts to evade paying taxes and getting away with traffic requirements and charges; the vehicle hits the road with fake Documents. The problem comes when the new owners realize they were taken for a ride and disagree with the cartels and they withdraw the cover and protectors expose them to the cops and hang them out to dry.
The other things I have noticed is how some influential people in our society take others for granted. I was taken by surprise and shocked at the same time; when an investor came to my office and asked me why I call myself James/wambururu on my personal and public profile and contacts while I use the name“Fredrick?” in my published articles. I told him I was not aware if I was using two names; wondering why he thought I can choose to drop my trademark “Wambururu” a name I have worked hard to build and I have had to explain the meaning and to spell countless times to foreign researchers and journalists for a common name likeFredrick!.
It was then that he pulled a copy of thePSV MAGAZINEPublished and owned by MATATU OWNERS ASSOCIATION {MOA} and went straight to the page and showed me the name of the writer of one of the articles which according to him, he had read previously in my blog. I could not believe that I was actually reading my thoughts and my writing pattern in a published magazine. To my surprise, the editor had not just used my article; he had actually published five of my blog posts in just one issue of their monthly publication. Unknown to this writer,the magazine has been publishing articles from this blog and selling it to the publicgiving those different names for each story but the content was purely my work-copied and pasted-even with my typing mistakes and grammatical errors.
When I called the publishers to find out how he just decided to publish “my articles without even a byline to point the readers tothe original writer,” He told me it was not his concern since he commissioned for all the articles and that he had bought the rights from the said commissioned writers to publish and sell the articles. I requested him to give me the contacts of the people he had paid for the articles but he decline and told me he would warn them never to do that again. It is called protecting the source.
They were lucky and got away with a warning for undermining me and my painfully sort and researched contents: I guess I should be thankful that what I write is worth something to somebody else. But I hope one day I will create a chance to meet the said Fredrick; and those others who were paid for my work.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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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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