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Flashy university matatu service raising speed concerns

Flashy, speeding, exaggerated graphics and obnoxiously loud music are but a few features that define the new matatus plying the route to Kenyatta University.

You easily identify them from a distance owing to the colours and flamboyance that comes with the minbuses and they accord their passengers luxury, but at the same time put their lives at risk.

The Sh50 you pay at the door is either a gate pass to the ‘hereafter’ or a guarantee to get to your destination in half the time anyother vehicle will take. 

The matatus have young drivers and touts who get on well with their customers and a collection of the latest music playing all the time.

And they get their names from celebrities; designers and musicians such as Issey Miyake, Sweet Heaven, and Rockers. 

Ian Kariuki, commonly known to the crews as Sadam, says, “We make more money on this as compared to other routes mainly because students like our vehicles and we go express from town to KU. Most matatus have many stop-overs and some don’t get to town but we do. We decorate our vehicles since we target students and they love flowing with what’s cool and flashy. We satisfy the students and get our money.”

But why the high speed? Well, the matatu operators said, there’s high competition to earn the set target of Sh14, 000 per vehicle a day. 

Driver Daniel Macharia said speed was crucial to his job as the matatu owner needs his money and at the the driver wants to take home decent earnings. 

“I have no choice but to speed up, get to campus in 15 minutes, instead of the usual 30 minutes, and get back to town for more passengers,” said Macharia. 

He said he had 12 years’ experience in driving and had never caused a fatal accident.”

In spite of the speed, students always wait for these matatus either at their terminus (behind Eastmatt Supermarket) in town, or at the school.

A fourth-year student, Mr Aden Bare, said he preferred the matatus not only because he gets to his destination fast, but also because they don’t keep stopping on the way. 

“They are very convenient for me, especially when I have a timeline to meet at work or a class to catch at the school,” he said.

The ‘university of the future’ as KU is commonly referred to, seems to be taking the lead as others follow with its ultra-modern library and on-going construction of the first ever uni-city in the country.