Kenya: How Nairobians Are Beating Inflated Matatu Fares

Matatus on Mama Ngina Street within Nairobi's Central Business District.
16 September 2018

Increased bus fares in some city routes occasioned by fuel prices has compelled some thrifty Nairobians innovate ingenious means of forcing matatu touts to reduce the fares.

Among the means that some commuters have resorted to is boycotting matatus that charge exorbitant fares.

That was the case on Friday night at the Githurai bus terminus, people refused to board matatus that were asking for Sh 40.

"We cannot pay Sh 40 to Githurai that is very expensive for 8pm. Not until they reduce it we are not going to board," said Kennedy Sagana.

Efforts by the touts to convince the passengers to board the matatus were futile.

At some point the passengers moved in large numbers from one point to the other as they snubbed pleas from the touts to get on board.

Beaten at their own game, the tout were eventually compelled to reduce the fares to Sh 30.

INCREASED FARES

A similar scenarios unfolded at the Eastleigh bus terminus. Here, passengers, who had already boarded a matatus asking for Sh 30, quickly disembarked and boarded another matatu charging less.

"They are taking advantage of us and it is not fair by all means. We also need to show our displeasure," said Mary Kimathi.

Touts interviewed said that they reduce the fares to save time.

"It is not our wish to reduce the bus fare. We only do it to save time and do more trips to achieve daily targets," said Hillary Ochieng who works in a matatu that plies the Mombasa road route.

Another tout in a matatu which plies the Thika Superhighway route said she follows orders from her bosses when it comes to hiking and reducing bus fare.

For the last two weeks passengers digging deeper into their pockets to pay bus fare following the enforcement of a 16% VAT on petroleum products.

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