Stop Matatu Impunity on Kenyan Roads

downloadMore than 2000 souls lost so far this year. That’s what the police say. That’s what the media report because the statisticians have said so. Over 2000 souls now are basking in heaven or baking in hell, thanks to the road carnage that has become the routine on Kenyan roads.

Ground is still puddled with the blood of 41 (un)condemned, unlucky souls; children with the whole life ahead of them suddenly garisterminated with malice aforethought (like our learned friends say), men and women who breadwon for their overly taxed families and the old in their prime who had hopes of seeing grand brats were killed in a City-to-City accident.

Yeah, and what the government of the day does is just chunk off billions from the national coffers (when it’s already broke) to bury the victims. For what use is that to the dead when the living are living in worse conditions. Such splurge should have been used to make life better for those living such that no such a thing would happen again.

Well, this is not about berating the government, or the police, for what they have(n’t) done. It’s about you and I not doing what is right. When would we ever learn from the deaths of others, our beloved who die daily from the madness that’s the impunity of matatus on our China-ed roads.

‘The driver had overloaded’. That’s what we all say when it happens. Who forced you to get into a vehicle that’s already full to capacity?

The driver maybe forgiven for stopping while he knows his vehicle is already full to pick more passengers (it’s ‘my time to eat’ in Kenya at any opportunity that presents itself) but not the passenger, you and I, who gets into that vehicle and squeezes our figures in the horde of already sardine-packed, cynical people.

Last weekend I went to the Western (my car is still at the showroom). Four right thinking Kenyans, myself included, refused to squeeze our butts to accommodate a fourth person in a seat that takes three. Out of the seven who had boarded the seven-seater (known as Kangaroo), only me and the two guys and one lady refused to be packed like sardines.

Well, we paid for our pride because we were hauled out of the vehicle and told to get the hell out of there. Talk of being black listed because we couldn’t enter any other vehicle.

The problem is, the matatu association is one extended crime family rivalling the Mafia, Mungiki is a distant cousin. Talk of extortion, money racketeering, racketeering protection and violence. The touts (with below average education) control the business; they determine the number of people who get into the matatus. Put blatantly, they force passengers into the vehicles and if you refuse you are told there is nowhere you would go, and nothing you can do.

In Eldoret – Bungoma/Webuye vehicles aren’t full until sambaza (a piece of would that’s put in the space between the row of seats for the overloaded bodies to be placed on) has been used. Fourteen-seaters carry 20, mummified persons, sometimes more, and seven-seaters carry 12 speechless, ignorant souls who put the blame on the conductor for their getting in an already full matatu.

“Si nimeambiwa niingie, unataka nifanye nini?” that’s what one woman said to me when I refused to create space for her. Jeez, she has got no say.

And when the four right thinking Kenyans, a negligible number compared to the number of ignorant masses, refused to bulge to risk our lives, the criminal-minded touts issued verbal threats before hauling us out of ‘their car’ (and yeah, they got away with it).

Efforts to call for police help were futile (they had gone for weekend), even the journalist whose number I was given by a friend from Nakuru at least to expose the rot that’s Eldoret bus stage was not picked when I called. One stout, burly, charcoal mesomorph chimp of a man made sure that we didn’t show our (smug) faces near any other matatu. Option was to spend in Eldoret or get on our knees and beg to be allowed to get into the boot of ‘their cars’.

Well, we had to swallow our pride and join those who couldn’t be beaten. That was the only way with the hour hand rushing towards midnight and no lodging available.

The rot and impunity in the matatu industry has ruled Kenyan roads for as long as we can remember, yet we do nothing about.

KAZ 387X, Kangaroo plying Eldoret – Bungoma route is the Kangaroo that touts hauled us from. It carried 13 persons. That’s because the touts said so. They wanted more money. No one could do anything.

Let’s not be fast to point fingers at the government and the police. Matatu Owners Association (MOA) should make sure that their vehicles are not overloaded.

But the buck stops at our door, you and I. let’s say NO to being packed like sardines in vehicles as though we’re hitchhiking.

If you don’t like risking your life (only to blame the driver for overloading when the accident occurs) and you want to stop the impunity that is the matatu industry, share this post. Let’s call for mass action against overloading and stopping road carnage.

2000 souls are gone so far, how many more are coming, and how do you know you won’t be there?



SHARE THIS POST, and let’s stop matatu impunity on our roads.


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