NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Until Tuesday, many public buses, called
matatus by local people, plying the Nairobi city
center-Rongai route in Kenya had TV screens on each seat
and music stereo inside.
system was for entertaining passengers with the latest
videos and songs in the usually one-hour journey. The
windows of the buses were also tinted black and their
inside and outer walls dressed in all manners of
these gadgets are now all gone after the operator
removed them ahead of the Nov. 12 deadline for the
implementation of tough traffic rules by the government
to curb road tragedies.
transport vehicles have been ordered to remove the music
systems, install speed monitors and seat belts. Drivers
are asked to wear uniforms and not to carry excess
distance buses, those travelling at night must have two
drivers and comply with other tough regulations. The
rules, which have been there were, however, largely
ignored in the past.
government, however, is keen to restore order this time
round as the number of massive road accidents rises in
the East African country.
people die in the East African nation every year due to
road accidents, according to the National Transport and
spent over 200,000 Kenyan Shillings (about 2,000 U.S.
dollars) to ‘soup-up’ this vehicle a year ago. We had
again to use 100,000 shillings to undo the work to
comply with the law,” complained Joseph Karanja, a
matatu driver on the Kayole route on Thursday.
He said it
had taken them three days to modify the vehicle, which
translates into missed earnings of 60,000 shillings.
they decorated the vehicles because that was what the
commuters want and it brought them more money.
in the souped-up matatus also pay higher fares enabling
operators to earn more.
decorated vehicles referred to in the east African
nation as “nganyas” have helped create a matatu culture
that is unique across the world.
To those who
love the vehicles, they are simply mobile discos on the
road offering entertainment but for those who don’t love
them, the vehicles are a nuisance and a health hazard
due to the loud music.
will end the matatu culture as we know it which is very
vibrant and some tourists even come to the county to
sample the rides, said Cornel Nokia, who owns a
He had also
“souped up” his vehicle that plies the Embakasi route
but was forced to take a loan of 20,000 shillings to
ensure it complies with new traffic rules.
the government could have found a way to accommodate the
matatu culture, because the matatu graffiti industry
employs hundreds in Nairobi in particular.
divided on the government move, with the young who love
the nganyas protesting that it will make commuting
unexciting to board a vehicle and stay in traffic jam
for two hours without listening to loud music which
helps us enjoy the journey,” said university student
commuters, like Bernard Musya, however, believe the
nganyas should comply fully since the culture enhances
unruliness on the roads and they are a small number as
compared to those which do not play loud music.
Wandera, an economics lecturer in Nairobi, noted the
matatu sector is a multi-million-dollar industry that
supports thousands, which must therefore be regulated
for the good of all.
must enforce the rules to save lives. An industry that
is regulated will serve everyone better than when chaos
reign as is currently. Those graffiti artists I believe
can still find a role in a better regulated industry,”
General of Police Joseph Boinnet promised on Wednesday
that the police will not relent in enforcing the law to
be effective on Nov. 12.
Owners Association chairman Simon Kimutai, however,
called for more time to allow the matatu owners to