An Open Letter To Hon. Amos Kimunya

6 12 2010

Dear Sir,

RE: 14 SEATER MATATUS AND THE MATATU CULTURE

I hope that this mail finds you in good health.

I admire your previous record as the Minister of Finance. However, your recent announcement that you will be phasing out 14 seater matatus as from 1ST January 2011 is inconsiderate and harsh considering the many Kenyans who use them as their daily mode of transport.

I agree with you the need to decongest the city but to me phasing out the 14 seaters won’t be a solution since from my observation it’s the numerous personal vehicles that cause this congestion! If you doubt this it will be my pleasure to take you out for a fact finding mission. To prove to you that it’s indeed true, why is it that during the day there are usually no traffic snarl ups and yet these matatus operate the whole day? It’s these personal vehicles that cause all the congestion!

Secondly, the 14 seaters take far much less time to fill up as compared to the 29, 33 and 51 seaters which take long to fill up. For example, when going to my home village in Taita, it takes an average of 2 hours for a 14 seater matatu to fill up from the Voi bus terminus so how long will a 51 seater take to fill up?  Also, it’s worth noting that many individuals going upcountry prefer shuttles to the big buses since they take a shorter time to fill up and this is evidenced by the large and growing fleets of the shuttle services companies such as the Rift Valley Shuttle. Transline Classic, Namanga Border Shuttle and others.

In my opinion, it would have been better for you to stop the licensing of new 14 seaters into the CBD rather than the entire country as a whole.

Thirdly, it’s easier to operate a 14 seater as compared to a 29, 33 and 51 seater due to the various costs involved. To start with, it’s cheaper to buy a 14 seater, the costs such as insurance,TLB license fees and city council parking fees are lower as compared to those of 29, 33 and 51 seaters!

Starting with a 14 seater is usually the first step of any investor and therefore removing this step is like discouraging the small entrepreneurs from investing and thus having a negative impact on the economy. It’s said that a journey of 1000 miles starts with one step and so by phasing out the 14 seater is like denying the small investor the first step that determines how far he or she will go. Mr. Kimunya please don’t deny them this right because no successful business has ever started with a large investment think of Nakumatt supermarket and many other small businesses that turned out to be successful.

Sir, if currently to get a loan to buy a 14 seater is difficult, what structures will there be in place that will make it easier for investors to get loans to buy the large buses?

Fourthly, the issue of matatu operators forming saccos and operating under them is well intended but I am afraid that they may turn out to be cartels since due to your directive most of them may not beat the deadline to form saccos and therefore those operators who already have saccos may charge high registration fees which may be exploitative and thus take us back to the dark days of exploitative cartels. In addition, allowing only one sacco per route kills the spirit of competition and thus hindering the operations of the industry.

Fifthly, I fail to understand the relationship between customization of matatus and road accidents. For instance why is it that Traffic policemen harass matatus with tinted windows and yet many personal vehicles have tinted windows including yours? Why the selective application of the law? It has been noted that many tourists visiting Kenya usually marvel and envy our matatu culture, customized matatus with graffiti and car entertainment that’s only unique to Kenya. Sir, by Traffic police harassing matatus that are customized this erodes our culture and leads to unemployment since many talented youths earn their daily bread by customizing these matatus and this may lead to insecurity since these youths lack any alternative source of income.

I vividly recall a documentary presented by Tim Njiru, a renowned Kenyan journalist, on the matatu culture in Kenya aired by the international news cable network Al Jazeera which created awareness on this culture and its impact on the economy and I believe that documentary really marketed Kenya Internationaly!

Sir, I fully support all the road safety measures being undertaken by your ministry and given an opportunity I would be more than glad to assist and participate in any of your campaign programs.

Let more energy be directed to road safety and not on harassing matatus since this ministry of Transport is not all about Public service vehicles but other forms of transport as well.

It’s my sincere hope that all these policies are aimed at improving the sector and not just aimed at benefiting some few individuals.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely

Guys, I have been appealing to you to sign the petitoin against banning our matatu culture. A big thank you to all those who have taken a few minutes to support our cause.

This letter came from a fellow Matatu lover and we are going to attach it to our petition and seek audience with the Ministry.

Remember together we can achieve more, so keep showing support. The link once again is http://www.petitiononline.com/matatu/petition.html…drop by.





Kampala Coach-FAIL!

27 10 2010

Ladies and gentlemen DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT ever travel with Kampala Coach, sure they are cheap,but so are their services.
Here are my reasons;

I booked 36 hours in advance after failing to get my desired seat on Modern Coast. This was a last resort as all other buses were fully booked, and it was getting late. I booked the second last seat from the back for two. I was going with a friend and we had to sit pamoja.

But alas! the next day when I reported things changed. First I was denied entry because, note this, I had no ID with me! Since when do I need to have an ID to be allowed free movement in my own country??? I was traveling to Kisumu,which is in Kenya, why the hell do I need to identify myself?? They had my name,my phone and ID number which in my view that was TMI already!

So I went back to the booking office to ask for a refund,since it was decided that I wasn’t gonna travel with them anyways, so then note; they were not going to issue a refund because ‘a booking once made cannot be unnmade’ at this point I was furious. I told the supervisor guy that we were not leaving that office until they gave us a refund and if that involved calling the police then so be it.

After much consulting and whispering amongst themselves they finally decided to let us travel bila ID, a refund was just not happening.

Please know that had they informed us at the point of making the booking that we had to have our cards with us it wouldn’t have been this big an issue,tungebeba ID,its really not that heavy.

So finally we got in the bus (which was filled with Ugandan football fans, just from the Kenya-Uganda match) only to find some Ugandan guy on our seat! The guy refused to move and the Kampala Coach guys did nothing to help us.

After much arguing we ended up traveling ON THE BACK SEAT! Yaani I gave MORDERN COAST a pass because they only had back seats available only to end up on the back seat of KAMPALA COACH! It was the worst trip ever.

To add salt to injury the driver was on some serious Miraa and rusha rushad us all the way to Kisumu. By 1.00am sharp we were at Kisumu, we had started travelling at 9.00pm!
Never again.





Congratulations Mike ‘Sonko’ Mbuvi

21 09 2010

I know you know politics really isn’t my forte, but this is matatu related so stay with me.

I just want to congratulate Mike Sonko for capturing the Makadara seat,to be honest I never really thought he could do it. I thought he was just the odd first timer trying to get his name out there for better prospects in 2012. So you can understand why I went ‘WTF just happened?!?’ when it broke on TV that he had ACTUALLY WON! And most of all against veterans like Reuben Ndolo and Mr. Dick, Im proud of you son.

Mike is a Buruburu big shot who made his money investing majorly in the matatu industry. Rumor has it that he is offering free rides on his mats for a week..I donno,Im gonna have to get a confirmation from a Buruan on this one.

For those not in the know, Mike (also known as Artur) is the guy behind mats like Jewel, Ferrari, Ruffcuts, Grills, Lakers, and that double decker bus, All 58’s, and Club Casurina in Buru.

I know this is a really long shot but I’m truly hoping he will do something to bring back our matatu culture,we just cannot live like this.

I had gotten so used to picking mats at my bus stop that going back to boarding just anything, (since they all look the same now) was hard to adjust to. If only we had Ali ‘Mr. I Don’t Care’ Mwakwere on the transport helm,things would be looking up.

Some pics of his mats;

Ferrari

Brown Sugar

DPG

Ruffcuts

Grillz

Pictures sent by readers,loving the support. Thanks y’all 😀





Eastleigh’s new “Baby”

11 02 2010

Grip Awards provided the perfect platform for the launch of “Baby” aka “Birdman” Eastleigh’s new kid on the block.

It wasn’t completely done at the show, but a week later it was running the streets.

Yet to find out which ‘Kitchen’ did it, all i know is…it looks HOT!

"Baby" aka "Birdman" rt. 9 Eastleigh

Same mat, different view.

"Baby" full view.

Prove me wrong, lemme know what you think.





Nganya Awards Pics

10 02 2010

Due to public demand, here are some of the pics taken on Saturday 30th January 2010 at KICC Grip Nganya Awards.

Jivu, Umoja

Best 29-seater, BrainChild

Heartless celebrating it's win....

BC crew representing

10Js

Chihuahua Rt. 45 K.U.

Chihuahua, check out the bullbar

Umoh's NYPD aka Dust!

Heartless back view

Halle Berry back view

Moha Graffix's Lamborghini

Blitz

NYPD aka Dust

Umoh's NYPD aka Dust!

Rep your route!

Cheers.





Matatu World

8 02 2010

This being my first blog ever, negative comments are not welcome. Just kidding :-), no seriously…

Anyhoo welcome to matatumania, Kenya’s unique culture that everyone seems to hate except the owners, employees and a few young people…like me.

I personally don’t get the negativity surrounding  matatus. I mean, the fastest way to get to work is to hop into one, the louder, the faster. Of course you will have to pay 10 or 20 bob above normal rates but trust me, the ride is worth every cent.

I’m not a stakeholder in the industry, I dont own any mats, I just love them.

Okay, strictly nganyas with the fly looking crew 🙂

Matatuworld is the new celebville, matatu crew ARE celebrities, they got their own breed of fans, groupies…the works.

At the recent Nganya Awards, the first of its kind in Kenya’s history, Eastlands once again affirmed its dominance as far as Nganya’s are concerned. Umoh’s “Heartless” won the best 14-seater while Buru’s “BrainChild” won in the 29-seater category. It was something like the industry’s own grammmy Awards, only cooler.

"HEARTLESS"

Umoh's "Heartless" 2010 matatu of the year.

"Heartless" crew celebrating their win at the Nganya Awards

It’s no secret that these ‘death traps’ like the media like to call them, provide jobs for ALOT of young people. You only need to look at them to see what I mean. Those graffix don’t paint themselves, the huge ’10J’ tyres you see in most Nganya’s is the brainchild of  young creative minds. So maybe they are driven formula 1 style but come on, we have to remember these things are on the road to make money, the more trips they make the more money, get it?

I admit responsible driving has to be taken seriously, but fast doesn’t always translate to reckless, and that’s the truth. What I hate are the so-called ‘deathraces’ where two matatus from the same route race each other in a bid to get to the customers first, or  just to show off. More so because they usually have people in them when they do this, and it can be a scary experience…trust me.

So anyway, love them or hate them they are here to stay, so the best we can do is to embrace them. Or else they will embrace us (I don’t even know what that means.)

More pictures of my favourite mats;

State House rt. 106

Buru's famous Brain Child, or BC if you like

Hulk at the back


"Kenyan" route 118

Some pics courtesy of fellow maniacs, and Facebook.

Feel free to share what route you rep and your favorite matatu…we all have one, don’t we?