Balozi Chege can now sit and smile about his future after the stars aligned in his favour.
Speaking to Kenyans.co.ke in an exclusive interview, the Vivo Energy Quality Marshall, who is in charge of a team of 20 people, recounted his arduous journey trying to get a seat at the decision-making table.
Born in a humble background, Chege was forced to take a break from Moi University in 2017 where he was pursuing a Bachelors Degree in Maritime Management after he faced challenges raising school fees. He then moved to Nairobi in search of a job to try make ends meet.
"In 2017, I was working with the Eastern Bypass Travellers Sacco on the Town - Ruai - Kangundo - Kamulu route. I had hustled a little bit, I was on and off campus because getting fees was a challenge. At times I had to differ so that I can look for fees, go back to school and then I hustle a little bit.Vivo Energy Quality Marshall Balozi Chege (right) with a colleague during a site visit in 2020.File
"In January, I had a Kiosk at Kayole Junction with trollies that sell smokies and kebab. I began as a vendor for three months beginning January," stated Chege.
His connection with the matatu industry came later that year after months of interactions with its crew. He chose to join the industry in order to supplement his income at the time.
"At that time, I was interacting with these touts because I was selling to them. Through that, I got myself into touting. Since the job was challenging and I could not get enough money as I needed, at times I would leave the trolley to someone else and go to matatu. I would be given Ksh50 or Ksh100. I did that for about two months; April and May.
"The much you can make per day was Ksh200. After two months, a driver can allow you to do a full route, which I did for around 7 months," he added.
Joining the industry at the time was tough. For two months, he was put on probation and the driver of a specific matatu determined who would ride on that day.
Due to a high unemployment rate in the country, so many youth lined up everyday to work as touts per ride and it was the driver's duty to determine who would land the gig.
After accumulating enough fees, he returned to campus in 2018 to complete a pending semester. Luckily, he landed a job immediately after completing school but he was yet to graduate due to lack of school fees, once again.
"I got a job in 2018 after leaving campus. That was Shell Station as an attendant till 2020 December. That was when I joined Vivo Energy and I have been working there as a Quality Marshall. In my station now, I am in charge of about 20 staff members.
"Those are the people I get into the job, I train them and ensure that the Vivo standards are met. My income increased by over 300 per cent," he noted.
When asked what drove him to return to campus despite all the challenges he experienced, he noted that a past experience with his grandmother played a role.
He had just completed high school and was gearing up for higher education but his family did not have the requisite funds to see him to the end.
When he visited his grandmother, she blessed him, bestowed a responsibility on him to look after his family members and offered him a Ksh1,000 note with a clear order to ensure that he completes his studies.
"There was a time I visited my grandmother. We were talking and she went back in her room, she was very happy because what I had brought. She returned with Ksh1,000 and told me 'Chege, this is all the money I have and your parents don't have land to give you'. she told me to make sure I get an education to help my parents.
"When I got into campus, that thing kept me moving. It was a responsibility bestowed upon me by grandma. I had to make sure I have the papers," he added.
After the arduous journey, Chege graduated in August 2021.Balozi Chege (left) with a classmate Geoffrey Karanja in Moi University main campus in June 2015File
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