Matatu's New Tricks to Compete With Nairobi Trains

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    Traffic jam at Nairobi CBD
  • Traffic is one of the major challenges that residents of Nairobi face on a daily basis. To respond to this challenge, the government sourced new players such as the National Youth Service (NYS), the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and the Kenya Railways Corporation to reinstate the conditions of commuter trains and the train tracks .

    Kenya railways also purchased Diesel Multiple units (DMU) in order to divert some of the traffic. This saw some loyal matatu passengers shift from the PSVs to the trains in an attempt to get to town in less time.

    Usually, the Trains from Embakasi village take about an average of 30 to 40 minutes to town with three stops, Pipeline, Donholm and Makadara areas.

    The traditional route that a matatu takes from Pipeline is through Donholm to City Stadium then to town is always locked in a gridlock, putting them at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the trains.

    Kenya Railways station at Dandora, Nairobi

    On noticing the disadvantage, matatu crews came up with an idea to create a new route that acts as an interlink of various roads. This enabled them to save on time and become competitive again. 

    This route was dubbed the “the express route” as all the commuters in a PSV were town bound, with none alighting on the way. The route passes through Pipeline, Donholm, then straight to Outering Road, Kiamaiko, Huruma, Mathare, Eastleigh, Pangani, Ngara then to CBD.

    The touts charge a fare of Ksh100 which is the same amount of money charged by the DMU trains.

    Speaking to crews from Royal Sacco, which operates along the Pipeline-CBD  route stated that they have secured a high number of passengers willing to commute to town using the faster routes.

    They added that commuters going to a second destination from town like Westlands and Upper hill prefer matatus because they terminate near the pick up points for their workplaces, as opposed to the trains which are at the far end of Moi Avenue. 

    Other tricks employed by this matatu is having a ground crew at strategic points of the route, that constantly update the travelling crews about the traffic situation so that adjustments are made to the route plan in case of an anticipated delay.

    On the way back from town, Sacco’s like ARBAB Sacco divert from Mombasa road at Airtel, South C area and back to Mombasa Road through the General Motors.

    Passengers using this route stated that it is easier for them to use this new circuit as they are less worried about getting late for errands in town or to work.

    The matatu adopting this route are distinguished as those creatively refurbished, painted and fitted with huge screens and music systems. Local citizens love to call them “Manyanga or Nganya'' in Kenyan slang.

    A Nganya (pimped matatu ride) en route to CBD