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PARTICIPATE IN RESEARCH TO IMPROVE MATATU SAFETY, AND BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE FREE NEW TECHNOLOGY

Poor collection of basic data by operators is probably the biggest challenge in effective management of Matatu business. Despite the numerous complaints from investors in the industry, Matatu Sacco’s often do not have sufficient information and a holistic understanding of their system in order to better advice investors on specific targeted improvements and growth of their resources.
Lack of professional and reliable management structures, tools, expertise and also failure by the institutions of the Government to provide guidelines on public transportation has hindered growth in this sector and has seen many investors lose millions of shillings through unprofessional business ethics.
Better information dissemination or sharing however, makes your business more efficient and easy to monitor. But most often, many a Matatu investor, ignore or don’t have ways or means to acquire the information they need or would wish to get in relation to their investments.
However, a group of researchers from the department of economics at the University of California, Berkeley {USA} is now testing a way to close this information void. The team is working together with Echo Mobile, a Kenyan technology company based in Nairobi to carry out a research in the Kenya public transport sector for academic purpose and with the possibility to make recommendations on optimal Matatu management.
The team has developed a phone app (SmartMatatu) that receives data from a a tracking gadget with the ability to monitor driving behaviors and vehicle’s location at all times. The device has been programmed to sends alerts to the vehicle owner/ managers of all unsafe driving behaviors like; over speeding, over braking, driving off-road and hard turning. The app has been designed to connect with the gadget and users can access it immediately to track their vehicle’s location, mileage and safe driving, among others.
Unsafe driving costs money either in court’s fines for violation of traffic laws or increased repair cost and also endangers the lives of passengers and other road users. By tracking your vehicle in real-time, you will be able to know for a fact how your employees behave on the road. You’ll know when drivers are unsafe and also track the productivity of your investment by getting firsthand information on the distance travelled compared to money earned}. You receive SMS alarms when the driver is unsafe and also {on request} get a summary at the end of the day on each driver’s safety record.
The program was started earlier last year in route 125 Ongata Rongai- Kiserian matatus. A total of 10 Matatu vehicles were fitted with the Tracking device and we have been monitoring, collecting and sharing the information with the owners and at the same time, making improvement to the device to accommodate the feedbacks we receive from participants on what is of importance and necessary information they would want to know about their vehicles. The program has been a success and now, we want to expand and offer more drivers the opportunity to be selected to receive the same services at no cost.
We are looking for volunteers to register for a lottery to be selected for participation in the second phase of this project which will run from January to April 2016 with approximately 40 matatus. We are also registering owners with interest in a lottery selection for participation in the full-scale trial, with up to 250 matatus through the end of the year. Of the owners who register, some will be randomly selected to receive a device and access to the SmartMatatu application for the remainder of the year. This will come at no cost, but in exchange for the submission of short daily reports on performance, earnings and expenses so that the research team can understand how tracking can be improved and made effective to optimize the Matatu business.
Other randomly selected owners will not receive the SmartMatatu app, but will receive a free mobile phone in exchange for having a device installed and for submitting the same daily survey submissions. All selected owners will also be paid a small amount for daily reports. Owners wishing to be considered for participation are requested to register for the lottery by sending an SMS with the title….OWNER to 20788… and respond to each question in the survey. Whichever group owners are selected for, any information shared or retrieved by system will be used for research purposes and shall not be shared or availed to a third party. Send an SMS now to register for consideration!

 
 

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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?

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The Government is 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 25- 29-33 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.

 

 

 

 

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA 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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Kenya’s matatu culture takes new shape.

The matatu industry has been the source of livelihood for hundreds of Kenyans and in different fields. The lifting of the ban on graffiti  by his excellency the president has brought out the best of local designers. Rongai is taking the lead in showcasing the best artists have to offer. here are some of our rides.
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Posted by on April 16, 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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what you need to know before you invest in the matatu industry.

Many investors are coming to the matatu industry with the wrong attitude and it is sad to see many going back the same way they came, and again, followed by debts. Below are some facts you need to know before you venture in the matatu sector.

1} A Matatu business is an expensive investment.

imax  Most people don’t see a matatu as a rich man’s game- Many associate matatu with the crew who operates them and assume that the ineptness is a sign of cheapness. But to get an edge in this sector, you need not less than half a million Kenyan shillings. This is the list you can start with, and  will take a lot of goodwill and lots of work to start going up the ladder.

With 1/2 a million shillings, you can buy a 7–8yrs old used Toyota. Chances are always 50/50 when it comes to buying a old car; especially one that has been on the Kenyan roads as a matatu for those years. No mechanic can perfectly predict the lifespan of an old engine; Take for instance; if you want to replace the engine of a Toyota 5l. it will cost you not below 350k. Other than that, there are other equally expensive parts like gearbox, complete suspension, differential etc.

Psyco front  For those interested in the minibuses category- the capital goes up to millions of Shillings. The good thing about this class of public service vehicles is that most of them are Brand new and Most banks are will to chip in the finances up-to 70% depending on the prove of ability to pay on the side of the borrower.

A 33 seater minibus complete with seats, governor, safety belts and all the legal requirement is selling at 4.7m at general motors. A further 500k is needed for a comprehensive insurance cover and about 200k for extras- this include, Sacco registration, decorations, advanced music system, trademarks and legal fees like TLB- County Governments parking fees and others. A serious investor in this category will be required to have not less than 5.2 or in-case of financing 2m is the minimum.

2} You need much more than money to succeed.

Many would have been successful matatu investors come to the industry with”joto ya pesa”  This wrong approach of thinking they are wise; is also a ticket that has sent many the way they came if not worse. The fact that you must come up with hundreds of thousands of shilling before you become an investor {as we have seen above to venture into the industry} gives some people the false illusion that they are better off that other small players in the sector. Many make the mistake of ignoring drivers and touts; rather than regarding them as important part of the investment many view them as slaves.

I get many calls from investors and one thing they all have in common is problems with workers. Majority of matatu owners never bothered to employ workers on permanent basis; they mostly relay on casual labor which is widely available at every matatu stage across the country. Casual is cheap as it leaves no string attached, the owner has the control of the vehicle but zero hold/ responsibility on the crew. here, they reach an off record agreement based on targeted income. The problem with this settings is that, no driver will ever agree to shoulder your burden especially in matters to do with police or accidents. Your vehicle will constantly be towed-because the crew took off and left it on the road in case of  police operations, hit and runs or worse hit and run accidents.

3} You are the CEO of your investment.

familiarMany investors lose millions of shillings to fraudster and corrupt government systems that control the matatu business due to their –hands off diplomacy– toward there investments. There is a kikuyu saying that says “kindu no mwene” {only the owner can take care of his property.}

Many people who don’t go far in this sector are those who, learns about the millions laying unclaimed in the passengers transport sector and ‘without’ doing a proper research} rush to make a kill. It doesn’t take much convincing to get somebody to buy a matatu since the demand for public transport in Kenya is obvious, especially in Nairobi due to the rural urban migration we have witnessed in the last 10yrs.The unprecedented hike in fares is an indicator that the demand is going up.

The problem for this “new comers” comes when the car hits the road and the owner starts learning work related vocabularies like, police crackdown, operation, kajo, wire, breakdown, break failure, music copyright, mung’iki, kamjeshi and hundreds of other payable institutions that don’t end up in the work sheet. In an earlier article “{ https://wambururu.wordpress.com/2012/11/27/the-pros-and-cons-of-investing-in-the-matatu-industry/ } I had said that, A matatu investor should be someone who is willing to spend money -legal or otherwise- to get more money. it makes business sense and cents to hire someone to do the dirty work.

4} The make; will make or break you.DSC_0419

The type of vehicle you chose to invest in; will have a lot to do with the success or failing of your investment. There are some brands that have dominated the Kenya public transport sectors for years. Isuzu-Toyota and Nissan have the lions-share in the local market. I have personally handled the three Brands in my many years behind the wheels and each has proven it’s worth.

Isuzu has the title for the most preferred minibus in Kenya’s matatu sector. This is on one hand, because of the availability of new spare parts and reasonable prices but also, because of a long durability record as is evident on our roads. Car makers like Hyudai and Mitsubishi have tried to build cars that can meet the NKR and NQR but they are not there just yet. Even the few ROSA’s we have on our sister routes have their engines replaced with Isuzu 4.3 imports from Uganda.

In the 14 seaters category, Toyota shark is the king of the road. this car has been tested and proven to operate on any road under any weather and ideal for long distance travels. The 5L engine has the power to handle the 14 passengers load with ease and still do long hours of continued driving. the vehicles is fitted with ABS braking system, fuel efficiency and more power as compared to it’s closest competitor the Nissan QD or TD 27. which comes second in passenger transport; the Nissan is easy to maintain and has a reliable backup in terms of spare-parts. It is ideal for short distance urban routes 10–15kilometers} that has less steep hills.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2014 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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ACCIDENTS; THE WORST NIGHTMARE FOR A MATATU DRIVER.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The photos with a story.

 
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Posted by on November 25, 2012 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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