Going Green – Nairobi City
Being in traffic for hours and you have an appointment to close a business can be mind draining. Private car owners will always have a sad story of their encounter with Nairobi matatus. Especially first time drivers or learners or more worse a lady driver. For heaven sake spare this unique group. One clergyman said, “if we were living the times of Jesus was born then his first ministry would be to matatu touts and drivers.”
Regulations past by 10th parliament in 2011 saw doors start to close for famous 14-seater (matatu) in Kenya. With an aim to decongest cities and address this underlying menace, regulations were drafted and registration of 14 – seater abolished. This was to encourage 25 – 60 seaters on the road and ferry more Kenyans at one time.
Reading memoirs of a tout you will pity him. Either in jail for making noise due to environment regulations. Or cops and council askaris arresting them and billions paid in bribes. I wonder how the message circulates fast among touts in traffic. You must have witnessed them running away from cops or your matatu taking a quick turn to evade facing the law-custodians – askaris.
Other road users would all raise their guns or stones against touts. Accusing them of abusive language, unkempt lifestyle and among others. Never be in an accident with a matatu as a private car driver. You are bound to loss out even if cops witnessed what happened. May be you want to say matatu are the devils of the road if not kings in their jungle.
I have a different imagination on matatu besides lads earning a living. It is a culture that brands Nairobi city unique in a manner that is incomparable to other East Africa cities. Were it not for the Late Michuki, I am sure the matatu coluors would display adorning great graffit designs, images and how artistic our nation is. The same legend tamed the loud matatu – or moving discos. The innovation of big moving theaters was a trend in matatu and latest songs. May be it is the reason for decline in bongo songs in Kenya.
Anyway kudos to the late Hon Michuki for making my city matatu have same colors and soft music. Thumbs up on stoping to register 14-seaters. Developed economies focus on mass transport with cleaner fuel and engine technologies. This is a right turn for Kenya, we need mass transport solutions supported by better policies for Nairobi to be a true green city under the sun.
My worries of where will my matatu tout go are soon fading. The bus system is slowly absorbing them – you have seen number of mini-bus increase. This will lead to 24-hour bus service companies that will hire these brothers and sisters in shifts. The nightmare of traffic dent on productivity will be half-way solved. However, we will remain to tell of the colours adorn our matatus and how loud they were 90s to the start of 21st Century. Mathree will be missed!