With the rise is fuel prices, Kenya’s matatus which are the main mode of public transport are feeling the pinch. This is because their operating costs have gone up, but they cannot raise their fares to match because of government regulations.
As a result, many matatu owners are resorting to cutting corners and overloading their vehicles in order to try and make a profit. This is not only dangerous for passengers, but it is also contributing to the already high levels of traffic congestion and accidents on Kenya’s roads.
What is even worse is that, due to the way the matatu industry is structured, these higher operating costs are being passed on to the passengers in the form of higher fares, but the matatu owners are not seeing any of this extra money.
The majority of matatu owners are not actually the ones who drive the vehicles, but instead they lease them out to drivers who then pay them a daily rate.
As a result of increase is cost of fuel, these drivers are not meeting the set daily rate, meaning that the matatu owners are actually losing money. This is leading to many of them getting into debt, as some are still paying the loans on the vehicles.
Some drivers are also complaining that the matatu owners are refusing to take less than the daily agreed rate, even though they are not making any profit themselves. This is putting a lot of strain on the drivers, who are already struggling to make ends meet.
These drivers are the ones who are feeling the pinch of the higher fuel prices, as they are the ones who have to pay for the gas out of their own pockets.
This situation is not sustainable in the long run, and something needs to be done to address it.
The government needs to come up with a way to regulate the matatu industry better, so that the owners can’t just keep passing the costs onto the passengers.
Matatu drivers need to be given a fair deal, so that they can make a decent living without having to resort to dangerous practices like overloading these vehicles. Until then, the situation is likely to continue to cause problems for Kenya’s public transport system.
Bribes To Traffic Police
According to Moses his first name who is a matatu tout on the Ongata Rongai route, they spend up to Ksh 1,000 ($8)on police bribes everyday.
“We have to give them (police) money so that they don’t impound our vehicles. These traffic police officers strategically place themselves along Magadi Road, Lang’ata Road all the way to the city center.
Sometimes we give up to ten different officers within this route and the price for each stop is fixed, Ksh100 ($0.83), when they stop you” said Moses.