Matatu Saccos Fiasco..how its fueled and propagated.

The new National Transport and Safety Authority Regulations had an axe to grind with matatu owners just recently. It ineptly, just like its many regulations and directives, said that matatu owners wishing to participate in matatu business, had to hand over their vehicles to Saccos/Companies. Handing over of the matatus to the Saccos under a contract or franchise agreements by the owners to be managed by the Sacco as seen in the draft of the regulations, was a death trap but thanks God it was removed or is it deleted? This industry is full of cartels and corruption plus immorality for your property to land on anyone’s  hands or is it pockets, let alone the Sacco. Why am I negative here and I am all about co-operatives? Probably the good question is, how is all these fiasco in matatu industry fueled and propagated?

1. Most matatu Saccos have two faces. One is the Sacco and another is the Welfare/Self-Help Group. Sacco collects members’ contributions i.e. deposits. Welfare collects what they call ”service fees”. The members’ deposits belongs to the members and the same is refunded when one leaves the Sacco (for well run Saccos otherwise forget it) and is also used to secure loans from the society. The ‘service fees’ is used to pay route inspectors and those guys who make noise on the stage whatever we refer them to. Sometimes this money also pays for sitting allowance of the management committees/board of directors and to bribe various councils to allocate them  parking space “shimo” or where they pick passengers. This money is also used to bribe the police, that’s why some Saccos never stop at a police roadblock even when overloaded or when “battered,” battered here meaning a wreck. Of course you know those matatus that are not roadworthy and you have that feeling that it could just break into pieces while at 120 km/h!! 🙂 . Sometimes back I had sat between the driver and and the other passenger and there was so much heat coming from the engine that I literally felt my ‘fundamentols’ getting fried bila mafuta!!

2. Most Matatu Saccos did not wake up and say “lets form a Sacco”. They were FORCED to. We all remember the directive of forming a company or a Sacco if you wanted to invest in this industry. This is totally, my opinion, against the Constitution Chapter Four-Bill of Rights that states: 36. (1) Every person has the right to freedom of association, which includes the right to form, join or participate in the activities of an association of any kind. (2) A person shall not be compelled to join an association of any kind.

The constitution also states: 40. (1) Subject to Article 65, every person has the right, either individually or in association with others, to acquire and own property––(a) of any description; and (b) in any part of Kenya. (2) Parliament shall not enact a law that permits the State or any person— (a) to arbitrarily deprive a person of property of any description or of any interest in, or right over, any property of any description; or (b) to limit, or in any way restrict the enjoyment of any right under this Article on the basis of any of the grounds specified or contemplated in Article 27 (4).

But here we are and we cannot enjoy our properties as individuals but do enjoy though grudgingly through Saccos and companies. Co-operatives work well where its members have voluntarily and openly joined them and where members (read matatu owners) saw the need to form the Saccos. You cannot tell people that “you have to be in a group so that this and this can happen…..” where are the group dynamics, the trust, the willingness to participate fully in cash and ideas, the commitment, the faith, etc. I find the directive lazy and assuming too many things. It is like they sat down and said…okay Saccos have really worked well for so and so, so we can replicate the same and we might even end up not having work to do but sit and reap!!

3. And let us admit, Saccos after the directive were haphazardly registered. I remember meeting one where the chairman did not even own a matatu and some Saccos had the membership of below ten contrary to the Co-operative Societies Act Cap 490 Section 5(a). Also the matatu cartels registered Saccos and most of those fronting for registration did not own matatus or were the “route” owners!! Yes, people/cartels own routes and you have to part with a lot of money if you wanted your vehicle/s to operate on the routes.

4. Regulation 5 of the National Transport and Safety Authority (Operations of Public Service Vehicles) Regulations states: 5(1) A person desirous of operating public service vehicles shall be a member of a body corporate which shall (a) be licensed to operate if the body corporate owns a minimum of thirty serviceable vehicles registered as public service vehicles or in respect to which an application for a license has been or is to be lodged with the Authority.

This regulation forgot what Section 5(a) of the Co-operative Societies Act states…For a society to be registered under this Act, it must—(a) in the case of a primary society, consist of at least ten persons all of whom shall be qualified for membership of the co-operative society under section 14. This means ten people cannot form a matatu Sacco even if they have 29 matatus!! These Regulations were made by Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure in consultation with the Authority (i.e. National Transport and Safety Authority). The Co-operative Societies Act  Cap 490 is an act of Parliament!! Your verdict is as good as mine!!! 🙂 Pecking order HAS ALWAYS BEEN-The Constitution of Kenya-Acts of Parliament/s-Regulations/Rules not the other way round. Regulations DO NOT TAKE PRECEDENCE OVER an Act of Parliament.

This tells you that National Transport and Safety Authority is at fault of not engaging all stakeholders and this only propagates the mess in this sector.

5. Police. A backache in this industry. Loose cannon. Reeks incompetence. No more words here.

6. Kenyans. Passengers. We are just there…….then accidents happens and we make noise and pray then we revert to just being there. I have never understood why we still enter a full matatu and still pay the same fare everybody else sitting comfortably is paying. I have never understood why saying NO is so difficult when an injustice is being propagated by driver and his conductor. I tried once making noise when the conductor demanded fare from a six year old who had been accompanied by a 13-year-old or so sister arguing that the kid had sat down. Mind you, the back seat where they were had three people plus the kid!!! I was almost dropped off and the painful thing is everybody kept mum!! I have never understood why when the conductor says “tusaidiane hapo” and passengers make “space” where there is none for another 120 kg plus human being!! I have never understood why we never say to the driver, stop overtaking on the wrong side or over-speeding or picking a call when he/she is driving.

Matatu Sacco management know this and fully exploit it. They know we cannot do anything. They know that we Kenyans feel that we are being given favour by them!! And they know we are always in a hurry and that we can sit anywhere there is space for a small-sized rat.

Police also know that we Kenyans cannot do anything. One, they have allowed not so roadworthy vehicles to operate as matatus therefore most likely they don’t have seat-belts and therefore we feel relieved when the police just checks us out and lets the matatu go when he/she gets the Ksh. 50. Two, the police own the vehicles too. Three, they implement the law, they starve…they have gotten so used to bribes that is part of their salaries and the good thing is that this is not taxed!! Four, we all like when police stops a vehicle and smiles or makes a joke, we are that easy 🙂

Good day.

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One Response

  1. […] Matatu Saccos Fiasco..how its fueled and propagated. […]

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