Ushawai ingia mat, then after scanning you’re like ‘dayum…wea the ladies at? ‘ As i head to the back seat the thoughts running thru my mind be sooo wild hadi inabidi akili ijiambie ‘Calm down Agent Salt… nobody be trying to kidnap you in the middle of the day, kwanza na hii jua na vumbi ya ukambani‘.
As i head to my seat, i already know who am gonna hit first should some funny business arise…na hata saa hiyo majamaa wa wenyewe hata hawana shughli na mimi. There was a time majioni nilikuwa naingia mat hapo GM and after noticing there were no ladies, i hesitated kuketi, the dudes at the back seat ‘Madam…madam…ingia tu hata sisi tulishuku hii gari pia sababu haina msichana’
The irony of this ride(attached pic) was that no matter how many guys alighted bado tu ni wanaume walikuwa wanapanda, n still we were carrying excess.
Vibe… Viiiiibbbbeee my people’s viiiiiiibbbbbeeee!
Okay, calming down… * inhale exhale*
So there is this guy! He swept me off my feet. No really he did!… I remember like it was yesterday… But when I think about it it was yesterday ( technically the day before I first put this down)
So I’m waiting for a matatu at one of those make shift bus stops and after about an hour of waiting for an empty javv this one shows up.
Super relieved though I was super late for a meeting in town! * if you’re reading this and I told you I was stuck in traffic on this day … My sincere apologies!* so I brace myself for that mini battle with other passengers to get into the javv. My matatu people I bet y’all understand the hustle …my Ngong road people eh?
So where was I …. Hmmmh… Yeah… The matatu arrives and oooooh my people there he was! Not your average tout!
This one …heaven sent I tell you heaven sent!!
He was in a black suit ,black tie and a white shirt! Not some boujee suit but compared to the usual funny looking ones *not all some* he was an 11 on my scale of 10… Hus dreadlocks tied neatly in a man bun and the Cologne …. Oh … It just blessed the dusty atmosphere!
So I suited up for battle … Elbows out ! Backpack now being carried on the front for safety purposes! Time for the test of strength!!
Baaaam! This excruciating pain in my eyes! Then I sort of couldn’t see for a while. Before I could get a grip of the door handle I felt my feet leave the ground… A strong set of hands clenching my arms.
All I could think of was … The theme song from a series I loved watching when I was younger…. Something like … Somebody saaaaaaaaaavvvvvvvvveeeeee meeee! * smallvile – idk if that’s the spelling*
And alas! I was now in the matatu…. The tout asking me questions… I reached out for my specs that were supposed to be on me …but now he was holding them. Right eye lens shuttered… My right eye sore and red! * yes that’s what happen to my spectacles …Velma moments*
But for sure this guy has changed my perspective of touts… I didn’t get to know his name… But just in case you ever read this Mr. Goodman Sir thank you for not being oblivious of the distress I was in!
I got medical attention BTW….I’m feeling much better!
You can now book a ride to your destination on MyRide Africa App in 4 simple steps:
1. Download MyRide Africa App
2. Go to the booking Tab
3. Enter your travel route
4. Contact the driver of choice available!
For drivers, the sign up process is also very simple!
1. Download MyRide Africa App
2. Tap the menu icon and select Driver Trips
3. Enter your trip details
4. Publish and start getting booked!
For those who know, we have always had a great story about #BobCollymore and #Matatus in our pitches.
Its usually an ice breaker on how he came to Nairobi and fell in love with our #MatatuCulture that he decided to become “Crew”. Unfortunately he had to quit and join #Safaricom after being assigned an “old” ride.
After this we would go on a rampage about how cool our Matatus are then feature him again at the end when he rode in a matatu with the President from State House to the CBD.
He was indeed a great guy who served in more ways that we could all imagine beyond his main business line.
From us at #theMatatuSocialNetwork May his soul Rest in peace.
Below are a few pics of him in various Matatus and buses in Nairobi.
As the matatu guys, we got the pleasant company of representatives of The Shell Foundation to take them on a matatu ride. It was their first time aboard a matatu and we guided them to our very own creation of a Wamasaa Sacco graffiti-laden matatu, with a large screen playing local music, wifi connectivity and comfy seats as we cruised the highway from Town to Kitengela.
To say they enjoyed the ride is an understatement. They were wowed. They also got first-hand information about matatus and how class and appearance is the new wave to get more waves on the MyRide app.
We also went to the matatu ‘incubator’ and saw first hand as the Samurai matatu underwent a complete makeover to pimp future rides. The makeover encompassed the body, alignment, seats, sound system and the interior. Impressed by the talent and the matatu culture, we called it a day!
Below are the snaps of the Samurai matatu ‘before’ and we can’t keep calm to see the ‘after’ snaps!
As the rains came and the traffic situation on the Nairobi roads tightened on Monday morning, MyRide Africa was engaged in the discussions themed “Growing towards Smart Cities” at the 2019 Urban Mobility Summit at Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The day revolved around panel discussions and speeches from the government, international and non-governmental institutions’ mobility champions. We also saw and interacted with mind-blowing innovations around green energy, sustainable transport and the role of big data in shifting the dynamics of mobility. But that data is being used to address middle-class problems with middle-class solutions showed the sidelining of the poor population. But that MyRide Africa is serving the middle and low class is a pointer to our future prospects as we work with more data.
With the insightful discussions in the room the whole day, there is hope that we will stop dancing around the elephant and take the lead in delivering our city transport wise.
Smart Solutions = Smart Cities.
The climax of the day was the pitching of startups to stakeholders and investors as the 8 startups graduated from the Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative (TUMI) Startup Accelerator. MyRide Africa was one of the graduates and we’re happy to have learned, networked and are now confidently riding past the limits.
Have you ever found yourself in town with no idea how to get to a certain destination using Public Transport and you end up calling friends or asking strangers where a certain Matatu stage is? You are not alone!! Thousands of Nairobians go through this daily!
So us cool peeps at MyRide Africa thought to ring this to an end so that you never get lost in Nairobi again! We have the all new Matatu Map on the App that can help you to find any route in Nairobi in 3 easy steps…
Board the matatu at Tom Mboya Street or near the Tuskys beba beba Supermarket.These matatus use the Ngara Route
Matatu Route Number 11
South B, Bellevue
Board the matatu from Railways Bus station
Matatu Route Number 15
Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi west &Madaraka (near the road), Tuskys T-mall, Wilson Airport, Carnivore Simba Sallon, Uhuru Gardens, Langata Shopping Centre, Otiende, Barracks, Langata Cemetry (on the lower side), Nairobi Safari walk and Nairobi National Park, Nairobi Animal Orphanage
Board the matatu from Bus Station main stage or further from the main stage at waiting matatus opp afya center. (the 2nd option is not always available and depends on absence of county askaris)
Thika road, Thika super highway, Roysambu, Kasarani, Santon, Mwiki, St Francis Hospital,
Board the matatu from inside Kenya Bus Station or from outside BS near the St Peter Claviers Catholic Church
Matatu Route Number 23
Kangemi, Westlands, Uhuru Highway, Kangemi, ABC place, Safaricom House and Uhuru highway.
Board the Matatu at Odeon cinema / Latema Road off tom Mboya street
Matatu Route Number 24
Karen Shopping Centre, Hardy, all Langata road routes, Bogani, Bomas of Kenya, Galleria Shopping Mall, Catholic University, Kenya School of Law, Nairobi Academy, Hill Crest International School, Animal protection, Co-op bank training centre, Giraffe Center, Karen C school.
Kenya Bus Station /BS, Mfangano street or main buses at Kencom House Moi Avenue
Matatu Route Number 25
Baba Ndogo, Thika Road upto GSU flyover,
Board the matau from Timboroa Lane
Matatu Route Number 33
Ngumo Estate, KNH, Mbagathi, Masai Market
Board the matatu from opp St Peter Claviers Catholic church or near OTC /Salvation Army areas
Matatu Route Number 33
Embakasi route, through joggo road, donholm, City Stadium, Pipeline, Tumaini Estate and Fedha Estate, Avenue Estate
Board the matatu at Muthurwa market or along tom mboya street opp National Archives
Matatu Route Number 34
Langata Area through Mbagathi road, KNH, T-mall, Wilson Airport, Carnivore, Langata shopping Centre.
Board the Matatu from behind St Peters Clavers Church or Opposite OTC
As per my previous post, I mentioned that I will be breaking down into the different things I experienced and observations I made during my brief trip to China. We were hosted in Hangzhou but got a day to tour Shanghai as well.
I will start with what caught my interest the most which is urban mobility. Being a Startup in this space it goes without saying that I had to see what these guys are doing right in Hangzhou that we could possibly borrow or adapt to improve our situation here in Nairobi and Africa as a whole.
First of all I have to give it to them..their infrastructure is top tier! The roads are all smooth, well labeled, sufficiently manned… everything just seems perfect. They have incorporated a lot of technology into this to enable better services. They have a number of tall collection points in the main highways. They have double decker highways…in layman’s language and to bring it closer home, Its like a Thika Super Highway with 2 floors!! I did not experience any traffic! This is in comparison to Nairobi standards of course.
There are no round-abouts!! All junctions are controlled by perfectly working traffic lights! Everyone seems to know what to do on the road..I did not see any traffic incident at all!! Clearly they are well disciplined and probably there are heavy fines for breaking traffic rules methinks.
I did my best to try out all the public transportation options available. They have Regular metered Taxis, Didi Global (Uber For China), Shared Bikes, Shared E-Scooters, Trams, Metro, Bullet train, Regular Buses, Tourist Buses, Ferries, Boats etc.
Below is my review for at least what I managed to sample:
This was our first mode from the Airport to our Hotel. The Airport Taxis are saloon cars branded Green and grey. Interesting thing is that they have a meter for calculating your fare so there is no negotiation and you are at the mercy of the driver’s route and speed to your destination. They are comfortable and drivers are friendly despite the language barrier. They accept cash or payments via Alipay.
We also got to ride on Didi Cabs, Uber’s equivalent in China courtesy of one of our friends and staff at Didi. Didi is very effective and covers a wider range of transport services. Got to reach out to them for some mentor ship and potential partnership.
City Buses, Tourist Buses & BRT
I only managed to get a bus ride to the airport although I really wanted to experience the other rides as well. I was especially looking forward to trying out the BRT since we are getting it in Nairobi hopefully this year. We are anticipating how it will work with our Matatus and it has been quite a debate so far.
The tourist buses are double deckered and are available in specific stations for touring various parts of the city.
The regular city buses are very comfortable and are also well planned. There is a route map for all places in the different bus stations.
Ferries & Boats
We boarded a ferry to cross over to a different side of the city where we could view the World Financial Centre building. The ferry ride was about 1 Yuan each ie KES 15 since it was a really short distance. You take the whole ride standing just like our veru own Mtongwe ferry in Mombasa. It is however very modern. There seemed to be several ferry service providers going by the different designs/options that were there.
There were also water buses and boats also navigating the river in the market side of the town in one of the Traditional villages as well as doing cruises like The West Lake tour in Hangzhou.
Two-Wheelers: Shared Bicycles, Public E-Scooters & Motorbikes
There is an encouraged cycling culture in China. This is popular in the smaller quieter towns where there isn’t much traffic. Cities have set up shared cycling stations where you can hire a bike to cycle for an hour to a whole day. There are several public bike stations where you can just pick up one and use it as required. The charges are very friendly ranging from free to the first hour to about 60 Yuan / KES 900 for 24 hours.
There are also public E-Scooters which were a thrill for me. You just get one at a parking station, pay for it electronically, pay for it and leave it at your destination. There are various charging points and they are actually checked and maintained by the city. We met some of their local officers or “kanjo” at around 2 AM checking them out and arranging them. Some( Don’t ask what we were doing out at that time, story for another day 🙂 )
I actually saw very few private bikes, and the ones I saw were high end superbikes and monsters. Spotted a Honda CBR 1000 and a Kawasaki Ninja somewhere.
Trains: Metro & Bullet Train
We took a bullet train from Puyong Airport in Shanghai to the CBD. It was a fast experience. Went from 0 to a max speed of 431 KPH in about 5 minutes. There was a sonic boom of some sorts when we passed the othe train going opposite direction. There were No seat belts in this train. The one way ticket was 50 Yuan which is about KES 750 or about $7.
After landing in CBD we took the underground metro to a different part of town. The experience was typical metro style where you could sit or stand holding your self up or lean on a pillar or the wall. The metro is way cheaper and we got to pay 6 Yuan or KES 90 or less than $1 all the way back to the airport!
We got to experience road trams in Shanghai. They are basically carriages pulled by an engine but are not following a specific pathway since they were on the pavements and ferrying people around short distances across streets.
Quite a number of private cars but got to see them mostly over the weekend. People rely on their different modes of public transport since it is very convenient. This is what we are aspiring to eventually get to in Kenya and eventually Africa as a whole. Many of the private cars are new and high end. Also saw several Chinese brands and electronic models.
So this is what I got to experience so far in terms of public transportation. It will be great if Nairobi could adapt in one way or another some of these innovative ways to encourage use of public transportation and curb traffic for better mobility.
As a Startup, we are doing our best to improve people’s experience in matatus through innovation and technology. We are making good progress and will eventually curb some of these issues in the long run with the help of relevant partners and the local authorities.
My next post will be on technology… stay tuned!
Oh and you can Download MyRide Africa and check out our new booking feature that we are testing with Ubabi Vanpooling to book your direct “flight” from Ruaka to Westlands and back!!
I was privileged to be one of the selected youth to participate in The 2050 Migratory Bird Program 2019 in China last month courtesy of The iHub Nairobi. It was a 3 – Day Event that well represented with participants from several countries as well as the host Chinese coming to over 2000 people in attendance.
Africa was represented by 4 Tanzanians and 2 Kenyans, Martin Kasomo of LIPISHA and myself representing MyRide Africa. Two other Kenyan representatives could not make it due to various reasons.
It was a great Tech Expo with a great set up. It involved a lot of breakout sessions, innovative talks, technology demos and mini events. This took place at The Alibaba Cloud Town Headquarters in Hangzhou City. The City is clean, well planned and serene being surrounded by hills and forests. We were not able to tour around as much due to the tight program though but made the best of what was available.
I have numerous stories to talk about from my experience and will break them down into bits and pieces over the next few days. I had great adventures, talked to business leaders, visited cool places, got lost in the city, tried out different restaurants & local cuisine, played 7-aside football, sang karaoke, played some live music, tried out different modes of transport, flew drones, recorded a Robot Live Band (Couldn’t jam with them though) and made so many international friends.
Attached are some pictures of what went down. I did not have a pro camera with me so I just used my phones.
Enjoy and stay tuned for the next piece…
Meanwhile Download MyRide Africa and check out our new booking feature that we are testing with Ubabi Vanpooling to book your direct “flight” from Ruaka to Westlands and back!!
Every once in a while we get to see the humane side of our fellow humans of Nairobi putting in mind the hectic nature of thee Matatu Industry in Nairobi. There are many undocumented acts of kindness that we at MyRide Africa would like to highlight and acknowledge. Feel free to forward them to us in case you have a recent one you remember and we will feature it here on our blog and App feed!
Here is one that happened yesterday:
GEORGE KARIUKI – DRIVER – KCJ 254A – 44 COMPANY SACCO
My hero of the day is George Kariuki. George is a bus driver dedicated to his work in matatu industry along Thika road. Earlier today one of his passengers Philomena Mbithi went into labor in the bus. The conductor and other passengers, ladies included, took off.
Perhaps with minimal options, George gathered strength, guided the helpless mother in delivery and as soon as the baby’s head popped out he rushed mother and baby Raymond to Neema Hospital along Thika Road. The two are safe and excited to be together.
He says.. “When the head popped I helped the lady push the baby, I told her to hold the baby, closed the door and rushed her and baby boy to Neema hospital. I also called her husband Benjamin Mbithi who was in Narok and later followed up to ensure baby and mum are okay”.
George later resumed his duties happy that he saved two lives.
Please help me congratulate this Good Samaritan. Isn’t he an angel?
George can be reached via his mobile phone number 0725470942