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THE BITTER REALITY OF INVESTING IN A MATATU.

When you have your priorities right or so you assume, you most likely have a positive approach toward what you want to achieve. Most of the times, we give all we got including attaining the necessary knowledge to facilitate all the right processes. Often times, the input we bring into the subject issue is everything we have and own in terms of the risks involved if the investment fails to reward.

Thousands of individual Kenyans have invested billions of shillings in what I can only call helping the government move people and keep the economy moving. Matatu investors pay billions yearly, though taxes ,fees, penalties, fines, licenses and bails deposit. Matatu industry [which comprises of 14 seaters, 9 seaters long distance shuttles, minibuses and buses with up to 51 seaters capacity] is responsible for providing upto 80% of public transport across the country. Nairobi alone is served by 60,000 plus matatus on daily basis.

Being an informal sector and yet so important for the economy of the country, the industry is therefore integral to the government and should be facilitated and guided by the laws and more so, sound and realist regulations that are open to amendments. Sadly, this is not the case.

Governments after governments comes and goes ‘since independence’ but instead of improving public transportation and investing toward making it sustainable, all the past regimes and so far the current one have continued charging services fees and taxes but not offering relevant services and facilities to enhance conducive environment to conduct the business.
For a single ordinary matatu to be on the road, the investor first buys the car from the dealer. Costs depends on makes (model) type and capacity. A fully assembled 33 seater minibus costs from 5.1m to 7m here again, depending on make and extra accessories added to increase revenue collection, USPs [unique selling propositions].

That is the first step, from there, you pay the government.
Advance tax =
Vehicle registration fee =
Inspection booking fee=
Number plate fee=
Road service license fee=

It is then that the government releases the vehicle to the matatu Sacco. Here the vehicle owner pays registration fee or joining fee. This is between 20 thousands and 200 thousands depending on route. This is nonrefundable one-off charge although not regulated by the government, the fee is compulsory before putting a matatu on the road.

All matatu Sacco’s are privately owned and vehicle owners have little or no say in the running of the entities. The directors decide on how much you pay daily as services fee and operations costs. This again is not negotiable. Daily operations fee is from 300 kes to 1500 for some bus companies. The Sacco is required of by the regulating government authority to provide and pay a driver and a conductor for your matatu. But unfortunately, Most Sacco’s have not employed drivers, the owner here has to provide and pay his driver.
After you have your matatu and you are a Sacco member, there is more; it is mandatory to have insurance for every passenger on board. For 33 passengers the minimum for third party insurance is 17,000 kes, third party insurance is only an option where the buyer paid cash for the vehicle, where a financier/ lender is involved the insurance cover must be comprehensive thus costing twice as much.
Other renewable mandatory licenses include county government’s parking fees which goes for 5000 and above depending on number of counties along your route. The more counties you need to stop, the more you pay.
Workers salaries can be paid on daily basis or monthly. The salaries range from 45,000 for a driver and 30,000 for conductor when paid monthly.
After fulfilling all the above requirements, the matatu owner hands over the matatu to the crew [driver and conductor]. The rules of engagements are simple and just like the way the entire informal sector operates, UNOFFICIAL/ off the records. =
The driver will operate your vehicle on the authorized route for certain duration of time everyday.
The crew will collect all the money and give the owner the agreed upon daily target.
The rest of the money goes toward; fueling the vehicle, paying protection fee and route managers [cartels] salaries.

Then there is the police to the equation;
It is estimated that one matatu pays an average of 2000 Kenya shillings corruption money, to the police every day. The loophole which the law enforcers use to mint all this money is created by the National government failure to provide enough facilities like bus stops and bus stations. Most of this Matatu routes don’t have picking and dropping areas thus, drivers have to find alternative loading and offloading places at the mercy of the police officers since its illegal. The court fine for dropping or picking passengers at undesignated areas is 10,000 shillings. When caught, Most drivers prefer to settle out of court with the arresting officer for lesser penalty

Passengers transportation market is very unpredictable, there is no day like the other, thus the income is not consistent despite setting the target. Many are the times that the target is not met. On paper and proposals, it might look viable and lucrative but on the ground- hundreds if not thousands of investors are straggling to salvage their capital and pay back loans. Hundreds have had their vehicles auctioned including whatever property they had put as collateral. Matatu investment is like gambling- and every investor must know the secret to survival, know when to walk away and when to run.
CASE STUDY.
Barely a year ago an investor from This town decided to try his lack in the matatu business. He did his research and identified a brand new ISUZU as his vehicle to carry his dream of owning a fleet of matatus operating in the capital Nairobi. He followed the due process of owning a matatu by firstly buying a chasis from General Motors, It took five months from the day he paid the deposit to the day the matatu came to the road. And indeed, it was a beautiful piece of art. SPANKING purple custom build minbus. By looking at the final product, the 7million Kenya shillings he had put in to it was worth every penny.
The owner had done his homework well and invested heavy toward capturing his desired target group; mostly the youth and college students. Nicely crafted body shape, high-tech inbuilt entertainment package, mega screens, free WI-FI, Special seats and CCTV monitor.
He joined a matatu Sacco that operates along Langata road that serve students of four University institutions. Catholic University, Nazarene University and multi Media University. Initially this had been his desired route of operation and the main reason he had built a matatu most appealing to the young generation. Business started well and true to his estimates, he was able to make 14,000 shillings a day. He had been promised 15k but he was okay with the returns.
The good cash flow did not last long, although the matatu was working daily, the savings didn’t not reflect the same. There was always a reason for all missed targets.
DRIVER: Buyu tume-umwa na Gava, wanadai hi gari iko na ngoma excess, lakini ni lugha tu, ni sababu gari ni mpya na bado hawaja ilaba…
OWNER: Si gari imetoka inspection juzi?- Tena sasa music ni loud? Kwani na nyinyi munafungulia load music tao?
DRIVER: sio hivo buyu, ametukuta pale Agip tukibemba. Ata huyu karao ako hapa ongea na yeye.
COP. Wewe mzee hi gari yako inaenda dani.. umeweka ma-horni za kufukuza wanyama, ma-speaker Kila mahali na muffler. Kwanza hii inaenda kortini direct.
OWNER. SIO Hivo mkubwa, nimesangaa kwani vijana wamefanya Nini..saidia huyo sio kijana mbaya. Hizo vitu tutatoa. Wasaidie warudi kazi..
Twenty minutes later the owner gets a call.
DRIVER. hello buyu, tume-achiliwa, ametufikisa library akakula thao tatu. Lakini ni Hali ya job, tuta-recover boss. Wacha tuingie wira.
OWNER. Sawa, ni poa Kama mumeachiliwa. Nyinyi ruduni kazi mtafute pesa. Staki story jioni. Unasikia kamau???
DRIVER. usi-mind tutasaka doh. Alafu Buyu, Kuna vile hi ngoma iko na ma-short, nimepigia Elvo akam a checking ma-badaye..
That evening, the matatu did not bring home anything. Not because they had earlier been arrested, no, there was no money because after they were released, they decided to go to ngara to have the music checked. The technician ELVO had two other vehicles but they opted to wait.
DRIVER. BUyu leo hakuna vitu, tumeenda squad 3 tu. Zile mbili za asumbuhi alafu kukam hivi kutoka Ngara. Ile doh tilikua nayo tumejaza mafuta tukagawana Mia tano Mia tano.
OWNER. Bona hamukuniambia milienda garage? Kamau unasikwa na karao juu ya round music alafu Tena una kosa kwenda kazi ukatengenezewe hio hio music,?? Come-on!!!
DRIVER. BUyu sisi tiliona tusiside tukikusubua na ma-simu, bathi itengenezwe Mara moja kesho tuchangamkie wira roho juu. Leo ilikua siku ya ngaba!! Kazi tutafanya buyu. Lazima recovery hii week yote.
After that the calls kept on coming each with it’s own explanation.
Police
Kanjo
Accident
Operations
Court fines
Warrants

and many other unexplainable reasons. Each time costing thousands of shillings. After six months, the owner could not remember the last time he got the 14k target from the matatu.

One year down the line, the matatu started showing signs of wear and tear.. the color had started to fade and even the interior decorations had started falling out. It was time to refurbish. That meant another two months at the bodybuilder to remake the body. The cost was in hundreds of thousands.
As soon as he was back on the road, the matatu has a crush with the authority and his number plates were consificated. He was ordered to have his matatu re-inspected even though it was barely a month since going through the same inspection for the annual sticker. The re-inspection took two weeks and 60,000 shillings to get the number plates back.

A month after getting the number plates back, his matatu was on 9 o’clock news. It was one of the vehicles that had been hired for a private road trip to Meru but instead of the convoy going straight to Mere, some of the matatus that had also been hired from other routes decide to do some funcy stunts in the CBD. The were put on the police wanted list for prosecution.

The Sacco grounded the and submitted his number plates and road service license to NTSA. It is not yet clear how long the vehicle will be grounded and how much it will cost to get his registration back but one thing is quite clear, his investment is not paying and if at all he has made any money, it is very little compared to the amount he invested and the returns he expected.
I don’t think it’s prudent to have the investor bare all the burden while he has a signed contract with a Sacco. I believe it is because of the government agency responsible for transport namely NTSA that has failed to cushion investors from exploitation from rogue Saccos and corrupt police. Let everyone follow the law. Matatu Sacco should employ drivers and take full responsibility for them when they break laws. The investor deserves compensation since it was the driver who could have violated the law if indeed the court finds him guilty.

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Posted by on September 28, 2018 in Matatu matters

 

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Manage your Matatu with ease.

The biggest obstacle affecting Matatu business venture today is routes and vehicles management. This involves the regulators i.e NTSA & traffic police, Sacco’s / transport management companies and individual vehicle owners. The reason why Matatu business has become one of the most risky investments so far has everything to do with the three regulators for failing to come up with sustainable ways of Addressing comprehensively’ issues affecting the industry.

The government institutions (NTSA and the police) must first of all take it as a crucial responsibility to protect citizens from unnecessary deaths and injuries caused by road accidents. One way of doing this is by ensuring that only qualified and competent drivers are allowed on the roads. The failure by this two main regulators has trickles down to Sacco managements especially town service routes, where we have seen companies operating without ‘ Codes of conducts thus, no internal mechanism for disciplining employees (drivers and conductors).

This has greatly affected routes management, forcing individual vehicles owners to incur extra costs by hiring workers privately( at their own term) and additional managers to monitor their fleet. Most of the current Existing saccos are just but cartels only being useful when renewing Road Service license (RSL) or paying parking fee. Vehicle owners have been left to deal with the police, pay court fines or bailout drivers even when they are caught breaking traffic rules, abide by the terms set by stage managers and even allow his/her vehicle to be driven by “others” and still paying compulsory daily Management fee and other hidden charges to Sacco’s where they are members.

But this is not to mean that there are no solutions: viable solutions based on facts that have been tested and proven.

For the last 3 years, I’ve been working with a team of economics researchers from a US universities who have been in the country researching on public transport and road safety in Kenya. “I’m only allowed to share what is in the public domain, so probably the ministry can somehow get access to the full report”.During the said period, the team conducted intensive research ‘using various modern technology, gadgets and scientific investigations’ and the findings might perhaps set the basis to finding a lasting solution to reducing road carnage especially in the Matatu sector.

Accidents and the aftermath, has left many investors, drivers, passengers and other motorists counting losses, handicapped, indebted, hospitalised and others doing time in jail. None of the said misfortunes can be said to be of lesser consequences, for at the end of the day, it affects all of us but in different ways.

During our research that covered over 250 town service vehicles operating in Thika, kiambu, kajiado, kibra , south B, Banana and Dandora, the team was able to track all movements, speed, off-road and off-route driving, acceleration rate, vehicle location at all times and ignition details, driving behaviours among others.

For three years, the team monitored and relayed the findings of the investigations/research to participating owners and drivers alike and what came forth could be the breakthrough in creating a sustainable management structure that can be adopted by Matatu saccos to improve safety and proper fleet management.

For many would-be investors, the transport industry appears to present a business mode that has guaranteed returns judging by the demand for this services across the country. But for the insiders (those already in the business), this is not the case. Majority are suffering in silence, straggling to pay back loans to lenders, keeping the vehicle on the road, borrowing to a point where they are forced to source financing from other ventures to pay instalments or risk loosing their vehicles to auctioneers. This can be attributed to hidden pitfalls and lack of reliable guidelines in the management of matatu saccos.

Lack of credible data/information concerning the day to day running of Matatu business is one of the reasons we see many failing to get good returns from the transport market. By credible data, I want to emphasise on the five areas that are most important in ensuring smooth running of this entities.

1- The condition of the vehicles

2- Maintenance record

3- Driving pattern or behaviours

4- Accounting and

5-legal requirements.

Poorly maintained and un-roadworthy vehicles are a major contributor to road accidents and low returns in Matatu business. Brake failures, tire burst, poor suspension, poor vision (lights,mirrors and screens) and other factors that are considered lesser and are mostly overlooked contribute to most of the road clashes. A stalled motor vehicle on the middle of a busy road is a danger to other road users and this is mostly a result of poor maintainance. Although some of the accidents might not be fatal or injury causing, they still require money and time if repairs are needed.

One thing I noted from the research is that: most of the vehicles that were not in very good condition during the installation of the tracking devices had the most breakdowns and we’re spending more time at the garage especially during the normal working hours and recorded very low income to both the crew and the owner and replaced drivers very often compared to those which were in good condition at installation despite belonging /operating on the same route.

A well maintained vehicle is not determined by passing the mandatory government inspection test conducted by NTSA. ..A very big NOT.. This could be, and is supposed to be the case, but corruption by officers in this institution has seen many unroadworthy vehicles getting legal NB. legal not illegal licenses to operate. On the contrary a vehicle in good condition has to have the following–

A- Good working brake system

B- Good suspension that ensures stability of the vehicle

C- Well treaded tyres / not worn- out

D- functioning speed regulator/ governor

E- Recommended seats, windows and mirrors

F- Properly insured.

It is the duty of any willing investor who is determined to succeed in public transport to make sure that the vehicle they are bringing on the road meets the above.

Once the vehicle is in good condition, the next step is to start keeping a record for any expenses that goes toward maintaining the vehicle in that condition. Income and expenses

This must include parts replacement, dates and mileage for normal servicing ( oil change, brake pads/ linings, greasing, transmission fluids etc). To enable you to get factual/ credible figures on wear and tear, you’ll be required to find a way of calculating distance covered in a specific period. You can do this manually by noting down the odometer readings before the start of every working day and deducting the kilometers covered from the reading at the close of business: This will enable the owner monitor expenses and can easily tell if the business is making profit or loses. Alternatively, you can install a tracking device and get all this information on your Android phone or a computer.

Matatu owners must fill the void created by the regulators by ensuring proper and documented management of their vehicles and the behaviours of their employees on the roads to avoid making heavy losses. Also, they must be in touch with the day to day running of their business and not leave everything to Sacco’s and or management companies. At the end, it is the owner who suffers the most since most of this Sacco’s don’t own any of the fleet they manage.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2018 in Its life, matatu investment, Matatu matters

 

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The more things change the more they stay the same.

Someone once said that, “Only a fool does the same thing twice expecting different results;” and by the seem of things we must be doing somethings foolishly. 
What I’m worried about is the outcome of the current public transport hype and this unrealistic policies being touted by NTSA. We had a similar situation 12 yrs ago in the public transport sector. Our industry (matatu) has had to come through a very rough trend to finally reach where we are and thanks to millions of our faithful customers who have stuck with us either because we have helped them meet their transport needs or for lack of a better option.

For those who did not know what michuki rules meant to us in the industry, then know this. Soon after the NARC government came to power in 2003 after 24yrs of single party rule. Those who came to power were determined to transform this country and leave a legacy. Public transport was one of the areas that was targeted due to it’s direct contact with majority of Kenyans, Being a new government, the leaders were determine to win the confidence of majority. Under the disguise of bringing change in the transport sector, ending corruption, road carnage and other misgivings, the government under the ministry of Transport punched on the privately owned public service vehicles using its three main institutions previously used in fighting crime namely; The police, the Judicialy and the Prison. But what came out of the much touted change was a whole new wave of high level corruption and gross human rights violation.
A traffic cop could flag down a 51 seater bus, check the tyres: they are okay. Check insurance sticker it’s valid. Check the driver’s license and its okay, he is in uniform; but unfortunately, he forgot to hang his portrait on the windscreen of the matatu. Now that was very bad:, all the passengers had to seek other means of transport to wherever they were going because the driver would be arrested and the bus towed to the nearest police station. He would then be locked up at the police station until the following day when he will have his day in court.

Now these is where the trick was {and still is}; according to the laws that we operated under, once you are brought before the court and your charges read. The magistrate can only give you two options, it does not matter whether what you are charged with is true or not, To avoid being locked up, you have to pay a bond of between 20.000–100.000 depending on what the cop writes no the charge slip.If you can’t raise the amount you will have to spend fourteen days at Nairobi industry-area remand prison. When you return to court after those two weeks the cop who arrested you fails to show up and you get another 14 days. Eventually, the cop will not show up, the judge will release you after some months.
The next time the same cop flags your matatu down you better give him what he wants or the same fate befalls you ll over again.

With the signing to law of the new constitution and a new government, we were very upbeat about the future of our career hoping that somehow or perhaps, we could turn these most hated jobs into a respected public service profession. There was nothing mentioned about the matatu sector in the Jubilee manifesto.And according to how the cabinet secretary for transport is acting; we can say this government want nothing to do with Matatu madness; Jubilee is talking about standard gauge railways, trains and airports; but whichever way, they will have to work with us for the time being before the tracks are marked and railway lines laid.
Our appeal to the government is to protect us from those who abuse states power to harass and extort money from us; it is insane to force over 60.000 matatus to be fitted with specific speed governors that costs 40.000Ksh a piece only a few years after we had fitted another ‘government specified’ set of speed governors under the same circumstances. How can a  serious cabinet secretary not seek legal advice from other government institutions before passing decrees only to be faulted by the Court after we have been forced to pay some people billions of shillings.

I hope our leaders will start to seriously scrutinize and really consider the bills brought before them and see if they will be beneficial to us the citizens before passing them into law.. It was quite a shame that not even one political leader in the national assembly or even the Senate is talking about improving the Matatu sector. All they care about is bringing in new competitors.

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2016 in Its life, Matatu matters

 

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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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THE JOUNEY TO OWNING A SECOND HAND MATATU IN KENYA.

Mrs. Brown is a Kenyan living and working in United Kingdom; she has plans to return home and settle here in the country sometimes in the near future. Despite owning a home here in the country, She feels the income she is getting from her rental houses in Nakuru is not enough to sustain her once she decides to come home. That’s where the idea of investing in the transport industry came to her mind.
She called our office around February and requested that i assist her in getting into the matatu business. she had made up her mind that she would try the transport sector. A week after she landed in the country, we began the search by visiting car bazaars to shopping for the right van. We sized quite a few, some good ones here and there, the price sounded right but they needed lots of paper work before the vans could be registered. There was not much time to go through all the process required for a matatu to get licensed by NTSA.

We opted to go for one already on the road. one advantage of buying a van already in the route is because It was easier to tell the condition of the vehicle and also what to expect based on what the owner is taking home. Another advantage  was the fact that the vehicle is already registered and certified by the National Transport Licensing Board it would only be a matter of transfer and renewal.

We were racing against time since she was to be in the country for under a month by which time we had to get the vehicle, comply with the entire legal requirements including transfer of ownership, Sacco registration, inspection and refurbishing the van. On the third day of our search- we found one van that fitted our budget and also had the features we were looking for- the negations started and a date was set for the change of hands. We had our mechanic at hand all during the search; he assured us that the van was maintainable

When the day finally came, payment was made, we bought the van during it normal daily routine. Our first stop was at the garage. Being a second hand van- we had set aside a certain amount out of the initial capital, to renew the vehicle. What we were looking for was the right image. The van was due for inspection in three months. Despite having a nice appearance we were not very sure about the mechanical state. 200k had been prepared for this task.
On the advice of our trusted mechanic, we bought a complete suspension system- steering, ball joints- shocks absorbers- brake system from the master cylinder to brake pads- idle arms, hand brake cable and finally brand new tires. Satisfied with the front parts, we turn to the rear suspension- the shocks were okay- we serviced the deferential, changed the transmission fluids- replaced the brakes lining and hydraulic cylinders and adjusters- leaf springs bushes, and again another set of brand new tires. It was now time for computerized inspection; this is where the vehicle is placed on various computerized machine that checks vehicle’s stability and wheels alignments-etc. most of the parts were new by now and that bridge we crossed.
We turned to the electrician- replaced broken lenses- bought new clips and connectors- rewired the dashboard to revive all signals and indicators. The next step was to check the safety requirements; we replaced broken seatbelts- bought a new first aid box and fire extinguisher – and reinforced the seats. We turned to the doors; serviced the locks, replaced worn out rubbers, bushes and winding machines. There was a small leakage at the rear end which allowed water to drip inside during heavy down pours; we decided to replace the entire boot door.
By now the van had acquired a new look and stability. It was time to check the engine; we had settled for this particular vehicle because our trusted mechanic had assured us that the engine was in sound working condition, nevertheless, we decided to give it new life. We changed engine oil, replaced air, oil and diesel filters, cleaned the radiator, added coolants and finally serviced the gear box system and added the required level of the transmission fluid. Now the van was ready to start providing transport services to the great people of republic of Kenya.
Only two things remained and these are the most import for our venture to be successful. The choice of the matatu Sacco and the crew; The Sacco provides the assistance acquired for a license from the Transport Licensing Board which allows one to operate in the route of choice. We had settled for route 125 Rongai- to – Nairobi. This route has five different Sacco societies. We visit three Sacco weighing out the advantages and what they had to offer in line with our business plan. We settled for the one with the widest coverage and better accountability. We paid the registration fee, bought cashless machines, paid taxes as required by the Traffic act, paid for change of TLB license and we were issued with the franchise to operate.
her flight back to work in UK was in a weeks time. for Seven days she watched her matatu competing for passengers in the busy Nairobi streets.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2015 in Its life, 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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