I Love Our Matatus But, Can We Tolerate More?
In Kenya and neighboring nations, Matatu is a name associated with Kenya public transport sector though privately owned, referring mostly to the low capacity public service vehicles. Arguably seven out of ten people use them to get to work everyday in Nairobi alone.
Over a long period of time, 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 every average Kenyan needs 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. You cant forget the big names like Kenya bus services, city hoppers, while others will include the cool Mash Poa and Coast Air which are operated under the rule of the land, blending in both comfort luxury and standards.
Although it is inscribed in our Kenyan mindset to see Matatu industry as an easy getaway to blame for all our transport woes, it is wrong to judge the entire Matatu fraternity or put a blanket condemnation. They are our brothers and sisters who work under very harsh conditions to provide these vital services to the citizens of our beloved country. We all know the being behind the wheels for extended hours is very tiring and in most cases our encounter with them is brief depending on the distance and frequency of our travels. As a matatu arrives at a bus terminus, their conductors lean out of the doors shouting out destinations and fares, to an foreigner it seems chaotic, and yet locals understands theirs language know exactly how it works, sometimes they are forced to negotiate with the first few passengers.
I have nothing but love and lots of love for our matatus and the matatu industry players, having relied on it to pay my bills till i couldn’t tolerate more, reflecting on that, my heart goes out to all the beautiful people and Kenyans who really on the industry to educate their family and more so to keep food on the table. It has employed most of the youth despite lack of Pension schemes and social security. Many of us have no idea what the matatu industry means to the fast Growing economy like Kenyan.
The industry spreads it wings to the body assembly and graffiti artist which has seen and number of Kenyans create masterpieces in art. A quote written inside”art should disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed”. A dozen Matatu jostle for space in spectacular paint jobs promoting premier league football teams, brand names and brands. The music industry have as well realized an exceptional sensation as the big and current hits and played in full volumes in the matatus for the public, the matatus its a way of marketing and convincing the consumers to be on board. The import of motor spares and motor consumable have seen the governments raise revenues, as the business supports the lively hood and quite a number or people in the cities.
Then there is the element of the law enforcement agencies “This is the biggest headache and the most expensive cartel to work with for many matatu drivers” Quotes a driver. As the legal custodians of the laws of the country, they have the power granted to them by the government to impound and detain those who by their judgment act against the law. And as the regulators in this sector, they see the industry as their cash pipes.
As Easter holidays comes closer, my mind cant stop thinking of an driver haunted by what he encounters and the horrors he see’s every day on his job. He has lost count of accident’s victims, and when will law and order or sanity will be restored on our roads. Every holiday comes and numerous safety awareness campaigns are carried out all over the country to educate or else warn people of the dangers of reckless driving and over speeding, however as we are all left wondering if all the warning fell of deaf ears after the breaking news,,,”A family perished leaving behind a boy of 3 after an over speeding bus rammed onto their car”.
Mine is just a Prayer like many of my fellow country men that as Easter holidays draws closer we will be all safe under the good hands of our brothers and sisters.
Enjoy your Easter holidays……