The matatu industry in Kenya is estimated to make about Ksh.1.05 billion daily in gross earnings. This figure may have fallen drastically due to the pandemic. On top of this, the government is planning on bringing the BRT system to facilitate more convenient transportation and help increase revenue for the country.
The costs that go into running a matatu business are several and range from meeting the usual government compliance standards to repairs, insurance, and ensuring the staff is paid. The COVID-19 regulations and the increase in fuel costs this has only made things even more difficult. Where the average profit used to be about Ksh.14000 per day it has now gone down to about Ksh.7000.
Now the matatu industry is known to be notorious for law-breaking and driving recklessly. Let’s not even get started on the unbelievable fare hikes when it starts to rain. Sometimes the traffic police will do nothing about it. At this point, it’s common knowledge that police own some of the matatus that misbehave on the roads.
Some cause accidents and will tell you plainly that they can’t go to jail because the owner is the police! As for those not owned by the police, it is already normal to see them give their daily, “sadaka” or “chai” in the morning hours or whenever they come across police stops! None of this is news it has unfortunately become normal.
Naturally, we know the consequences of breaking traffic laws are far more severe than tea on the police officer. That is just one of many factors that would be attached to what happens on our roads however there seems to be a wind of change slowly coming into this industry.
Is the matatu industry changing?
While matatu owners seem to be complaining about these challenges, the transportation industry seems to be slowly evolving. When Uber dropped in Kenya a few years ago, they faced resistance. There were taxi drivers and some Uber drivers who saw their cars being burned! However, things have shifted dramatically ever since then! The number of taxi apps in Kenya has increased and is now the norm in the taxi industry.
Swvl a similar app to Uber dropped in Kenya recently and has already picked up some traction. They had been suspended due to a compliance issue with the NTSA. However, it appears they are back in business since last month. They announced that they are willing to work with the existing players in the market as long as they meet the requirements needed by the ministry of health and transportation.
This may very well be an opportunity for Matatu operators to collaborate with Swvl to digitalize the industry and save their businesses. Of course, this being Kenya, we will see online businesses and apps like Swvl coming in should it prove to be more successful. In the meantime, we will be waiting for the government’s BRT system and watch how it all plays out.
If you would like to read an article on some of the online jobs that pay well just click here. Feel free to leave us a comment on the matatu industry and the direction it may be taking very soon.