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Nairobi matatu stories you will not believe

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Matatu! That’s what we call them here. Sometimes we call them nganya, public service vehicle or in short, PSV. Elsewhere, they are called taxis.

We have heard all these weird stories about things that happen in matatus. These go long before conductors and drivers started raping their female clients, drugging and stealing from them – these are just modern vices.

You’ve probably left change in a matatu – or had a conductor refuse to give back your change. Yeah, sometimes, they even insult you for asking for change! They even insult you for refusing to board their matatus – this is especially typical of the touts.

Enough of the crew, let’s get down to the weird things that happen in matatus. Here are some of them:

  1. Crickets and bedbugs. You must have seen these tiny bugs move around the cabin of some matatus before jumping into somebody’s coat or handbag.
  2. Leaking windows and roof. The rainy season is fast approaching, and you don’t want to board some matatus. When it rains, they leak!
  3. Grass for fuel. This is a little bit superstitious, but I heard of some matatus that eat grass at night to take them through the following day. Yes, these ones do not know the ‘taste’ of fuel, you will never see them in a fuel station. I am told some of the modern nganyas¬†plying the Rongai route even turn into cows at night. One driver got so exhausted one day that he decided to pack his employer’s vehicle at his home. In the morning, the employer called him saying: “Hio ng’ombe jua mahali utaipeleka.” He had seen a cow outside¬†but the flashy matatu had gone missing.
  4. suicide rope. Conductors of some vehicles scramble for the suicide rope. They believe it attracts customers to their vehicles. So next time you see a rope hanging aimlessly on the matatu, find out whether it’s an ‘innocent’ one.
  5. Mbao mbao. If you live in Githurai, you must have been a victim of this especially if you board matatus on Ronald Ngala. When they say mbao mbao, they either mean 20 or 40! Just ask for clarity before boarding.

What other weird stories have you heard about Nairobi matatus? Let us know in the comments box.