I feel that matatus (14-52 seater vans for public transport) are worth a mention,
because they affect our daily life in Kenya. Many of us depend on them to go to work,
to go to school or even to run our daily errands.
The word matatu originated from the fact that when this means of public transport was started,
the fare charged was 3 pennies/coins.
So in Kiswahili you would say that you pay mapeni matatu, which translates to ‘three coins’.
This name stuck for this mode of public transport. I can describe this mode of transport in one word: chaos.
It is our public means transport in Kenya, and the drivers of these vehicles are known for their blatant disregard
for traffic rules.
Matatus are therefore famous for blaring music, noisy exhaust pipes, and
exaggerated graffiti on the outside and inside of the matatu and reckless driving that breaks most traffic rules
and upsets the passengers. Apart from the noise, matatus are preferred because they drop can pick
passengers wherever they are and drop them off wherever they are going especially if
they are operating outside the city.
Long distance buses and vans can be reliably used, but care needs to be taken when it gets dark.