After a second encounter in the same week, I feel this is something that needs to be aired and rectified. Matatu operators have become more like robbers, taking money from Kenyans by force. What am I talking about? Here’s my story…
Monday morning. I board a matatu for town at the Roysambu round about. It’s one belonging to a company called Zuri (those living there should know them). Next to me is a lady employee of a local bank (I saw her staff ID ;)). As usual, the conductor does his rounds collecting fares from the passengers on board. I give a Ksh.500 note because that was all the money I had. The lady next to me does the same. We don’t get our change immediately but it’s understandable; he probably doesn’t have it yet and is waiting to collect from other passengers then refund us. We get to Ngara and the lady has to alight. She asks for her change but the conductor insists that he has no change. Instead of asking a fellow conductor for help and release the lady, the conductor rudely tells the lady she has to get to town for her change. She gets hysterical and starts to shout and insists that she has a meeting and is gonna be late. I tell the conductor to give her back her money and deduct both her fare and mine from what I gave him but instead he slaps the bus on the side and we are on the move.
By the time we get to town, the lady is at the point of tears. We alight. she asks for her change again. The arrogant conductor still insists that he has no change. Gives us a Ksh.500 note and some coins and tells us to share the change. Here’s my problem. The lady and I are going to different directions. It’s already 7.30am and time is running out. I decide to be the bigger man and offer to walk the lady to where she is to get her matatu as we look for change and she luckily agrees.
Today, Friday, I get into another matatu from the same company. Unfortunately, all I had was a Ksh.500 note. As expeced, the conductor had no change. Politely he says, “Boss wacha tufike town nikutafutie.” He seems like a nice guy and I oblige. We get to town. I deliberately alight last so that I get my change, but the moment my foot touches ground the bus shoots off towards the Globe roundabout with the conductor having jumped on it and leaving my hand stretched out as if I was begging.
In my confusion I forget to take down the matatu’s plate number. Luckily, another conductor from a but that was waiting to fill up comes up to me and asks if I’m OK and after telling him my story, he offers me the conductor’s number. I try to call. No answer. I try again and again, no answer. I give up. I decide to walk to Upperhill where I work.
Now I’m sitting in the office writing this post and I can’t help wondering. Who are the owners of these buses? Who are the managers at this company? Why are they employing crooks as conductors? Who protects the customers from such? I need answers. Am I that unlucky or are there others out there that have similar or worse experiences? Please comment and share your story and if anyone has the contact to that company, Zuri, Please share.