Nairobi - The Famous MATATU
If there is a phenomenon that does not escape you in Nairobi, it is the famous "matatu". These are buses of 15 or 30 places with the design showing the creativity of the man and having several features. So I pushed my curiosity to understand how the concept was born. Here is what I learned.
It all started with the introduction of the public bus system. Unfortunately this system has failed. But private, seeing that this could be a promising business, have embarked on the adventure. The companies created were called "SACCOs" with the hope of seeing an improvement in driving. Unfortunately, this was not the case as such. Everyone wanted to make the maximum turnover and therefore imagine the sequel. In short, the big matatu, which are the most designated and the most stylish, have appeared with concepts ranging from tablets that can support a laptop of the presence of flat screen television (32 to 43 inches), music and especially the Wireless.
The idea was to make the trip less stressful especially in times of traffic jams. So what is more normal than to spend two to three hours in a bus with wifi (and therefore the possibility of staying connected, doing research on the internet for homework to be done in class or university), watching Television (especially musical clips or even the news), or enjoy a nightclub atmosphere and thus save on the price of beer? One understands then that it is the young generation that is most allured by this concept.
The cost of transport also using the matatus is very low. For a race of 500 KHS in an ordinary taxi, the matatu costs you 5 times cheaper. They can’t drop you at home unless you have the chance to see them driving past your house. Otherwise you have to get off at a parking point and walk a bit. Very good for health anyway. On the other hand, the Matatu are specialized to drive on a given route. So sometimes, to rally a point, it will take two to three matatu. A bit like the subway but by bus.
However, there is a dangerous behavior that most road users complain about. Indeed, many drivers do not really respect the code of the road. The commitments are made as of the quarter turn without taking into account the other passing cars. Obviously in a small car of five places, you are obliged to give priority to the risk of seeing your car smashed like a plastic bag. However, a good thing for small cars is being able to use them as alternate cars when you want to make their way and the others do not let you pass by positioning you just behind them. A little smart you will say. But vigilance unless you have the reflex to press the brake pedal abruptly when the Big Matatu also does. Otherwise, hello the damage.
The external style or decoration aims to attract attention and to distinguish the different matatus. Those belonging to the same company (SACCO) will have the same exterior design. But you have to be careful taking the matatu because of the pickpockets. So, are you ready to try the Matatu adventure? Do like me (take pictures).
By the way, the other means of transport in Nairobi are: ordinary taxis (alone or in groups of up to 4) with negotiation of the price, Uber taxis (on order via the Uber application on telephone, indicating the place of Load and destination, a simulation of the price is given with a margin between the lowest price and the highest) relatively cheaper than the ordinary taxis when there is no traffic jam because the tariff takes into account the distance And the time spent in traffic, personal cars, taxi-motorcycles (rolling in all directions) and of course the ELEVEN NATIONAL or ABRAHAM (the feet).
But what I learned more is that these "matatu" are made locally. Only the motor and chassis are imported. The bodywork is made locally and is very resistant (more than ordinary cars). Which explains why no one wants to collide with them. In any case, for these stories of traffic jams, I think that setting up a tram would make life easier in Nairobi.
by: Martial TEVI-BENISSAN