Matatu operator praised for returning passenger’s lost phone
A 39-year-old matatu manager has made an entry into the Nairobi hall of fame for returning a phone dropped in a van and whose owner had considered lost for two weeks.
Mr Edwin Maloba, who manages Lucky Transporters fleet of matatus that mostly ply the Nairobi-Lang’ata route, was a subject of praise on Facebook on Monday when he returned a Nokia C3 phone to Nairobi resident Mike Nyagwoka.
Mr Nyagwoka, a newscaster at a local FM station, had dropped the phone on April 3 in one of the Lucky Transporters matatus on his way to work.
“I alighted and realised I didn’t have my phone. I immediately knew I had dropped it in a matatu somewhere. I said a few goodbye prayers, got a new phone and moved on,” he said.
Speaking to Nairobi News outside his office opposite Nairobi’s Afya Centre, Mr Maloba said he picked the phone and since it was off, he had to charge it to start the process of tracing its owner.
“I inserted my SIM card, accessed the SMS conversations and called one of the people he had contacted. We then agreed on how he would pick the phone,” he said.
Mr Nyagwoka had owned the phone for three years and said the most devastating thing about its loss was the data it was carrying.
“It had a memory card which had most of my assignments for my master’s studies, not forgetting my contacts in the journalism field,” he said.
He believes that there are still good people out there.
“Be good to people. Let’s not judge people from the narrowness of our mind-sets as most of the people do not fit into our prejudiced stereotypes. They have families, wives children and they care more about life than we may care to know,” said the 27-year-old.
The matatu manager, who said he has been in the business since 2002, said his strong Christian faith cannot let him try to benefit from someone’s lost property.
“Life has taught me that if I return what is lost, I get more back. If I keep it, I will be the loser at the end of the day,” said Mr Maloba, a staunch Anglican.
He added that he picks an average of two lost phones in the 14-seater shuttles that ply the Lang’ata route per week.
“Most people drop their phones during weekends when they have gone out drinking. I keep their phones and start reaching out to their contacts as soon as possible,” he said.
“A phone may look small or cheap but I never underestimate the value of the data it is carrying. I have picked phones of all shapes and sizes and I always try my best to return them.
“I also have a lot of documents that people have dropped in our matatus and I am keeping them in wait for their owners. I try to contact some of them via email but most go unanswered,” he said.
He added that his heart bleeds when he sees other matatu practitioners making away with passenger’s valuables.
“Honesty is a good virtue in this industry. I realised it when I got saved a few years into my career and that is the reason why I am now a big investor back home in the Western Region. I am also a member of Saccos and chamas because I value my legally owned money,” he said.
Mr Maloba received praise from Mr Nyagwoka’s Facebook friends who hailed it a miracle.
“Miracles do happen — a matatu operator has been tracking me to hand back my phone that I lost two weeks ago,” Mr Nyagwoka posted.
“Kuna watu wazuri bado hii dunia (There are still good people left on earth),” one Momanyi Michira replied to Mr Nyagwoka’s post.
“Huyo ni shujaa (That is a hero),” wrote Boinett Jeff.
“That’s one in a million,” wrote Mercy Nyamisa.
“Wow kunao wazuri lakini wachache (Wow, there are good people; though few),” wrote Yunike Moraa.