Dilapidated Matatus: Uproar Over Moving Death Traps in Nairobi

  • A circulating video of a dilapidated 14-seater matatu in Nairobi sparked outrage among Kenyans, with a majority concerned with the lurking danger they pose to commuters.

    In the video seen by Kenyans.co.ke on Thursday, December 8, the green matatu seen in Kawangware was a metallic shell with the tail lights, brake and indicator lights broken.

    The vehicle’s body was bartered, but notwithstanding, it had a speed limit sticker, reflector plates and a yellow line in compliance with the requirements of public vehicles services. 

    Vehicle mechanic Miller Kyalo noted that such automobiles should not be allowed on roads as they were a tragedy waiting to happen.

    Wreckage of a matatu at the scene of accident in Kanyonyoo

    Wreckage of a matatu at the scene of the accident in Kanyonyoo.


    “The main question is whether they rightfully passed the inspection; if that is the case, then there is no cause for alarm. If not, then we have a reason to worry,” he stated.

    Kyalo explained that the purpose of the inspection is to ensure that all vehicle parts are fully functional, adding that even the smallest hitch could cause huge losses.

    “A dysfunctional headlamp is a recipe for disaster for pedestrians and motorists.

    “Worn-out tyre treads, brake pads and leakages in the engine are among the leading causes of road carnage,” he stated.

    In addition, most of the old cars have broken down dashboards, which are the communication unit of the vehicle that alerts drivers of any mishaps.

    Other faults to look out for include safety belts, worn-out gearboxes, bushes and rust on the vehicles. Dilapidated vehicles also pose health risks due to high emission levels.

    A spot check by Kenyans.co.ke revealed that most vehicles operate at night, and surveillance on PSVs is relaxed.

    Notably, a section of Kenyans came to the defence of the dilapidated vehicles, noting that they were the safest if anything was to go by.

    “I beg to differ, 80 per cent of the vehicles involved in accidents are the new ones. These old vehicles are driven very cautiously,” one user wrote.

    “These matatus are very okay. The engine is intact and the tyres are in good condition – the body is the only thing that is worn out,” another commented.

    The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) requires all vehicles to undergo inspection before being cleared to operate on the roads.

    A file image of matatus parked along Accra road in Nairobi County.

    A file image of matatus parked along Accra road in Nairobi County.


Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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