Informal Public Transport in Practice : Matatu Entrepreneurship book cover
1st Edition

Informal Public Transport in Practice
Matatu Entrepreneurship

ISBN 9781138547360
Published February 18, 2018 by Routledge
168 Pages

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Book Description

Transport discourse often concentrates on what is missing from transport policy and practice in developing countries vis-à-vis high-income countries rather than articulating local creativity in responding to transport needs as revealed in informal public transport modes such as matatu, motorcycle, bicycle and animal transport. This book helps to correct some of the tendency of inadequate contextualization of knowledge, technology and practice learning and transfer from one setting to another in transport and other development programmes. While countries such as Kenya have ambitions to develop their transport systems to fit into the globalized transport system, they also need to plan transport for ordinary life in both urban and rural areas. The matatu service, provided by privately-owned transport carriers, can be seen as a mirror of the life of Kenya, revealing how indigenous African entrepreneurship and capitalism straddles various economic, political and social systems. This book offers a phenomenological and situated analysis of the matatu entrepreneurship in the political economy of Kenya and its embeddedness in society. By adopting a social science approach, this book highlights a number of political, social and practical issues to demonstrate the matatu is not a decontextualized, disembodied and lifeless piece of moving metal carrying people and goods but rather part of a self-organizing industry, with its own logic of practice. This book is dedicated to Ajanga Khayesi.

Table of Contents

Contents: Foreword, Dorothy McCormick; Preface; 'What is in a name?'; Peeling off the layers of the matatu entrepreneurship; The roots, branching and subsequent exploitation of matatu entrepreneurial opportunity; Weaving through the emerging and changing national political landscape, 2002-2013; Matatu entrepreneurship performance; The logic of practice of matatu entrepreneurship as a self-organizing sector; Violence, crime and safety; The matatu industry as part of entrepreneurial efforts in Kenya; Matatu entrepreneurship as a learning experience; Matatu entrepreneurship: so what?; References; Index.

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Meleckidzedeck Khayesi, Transport Researcher, Geneva, Switzerland, Fredrick Muyia Nafukho, Texas A&M University, USA and Joyce Kemuma, Högskolan Dalama University, Sweden.


’For too long, the world of transport planning, policy and analysis has been dominated by what happens in the USA or UK and the geographical lop-sidedness is compounded by an emphasis on methodology, car traffic, infrastructure and the possibilities around modal shift. This is very worthy but the world is richer and more diverse than this menu suggests. This book about matatu minibuses in Kenya is therefore a breath of fresh air which takes us all into a new dimension of thinking. What is the matatu? How does it work? Why does it straddle legality and illegality? How does it relate to the world of regulated, orderly public transport? This book explores all these questions and much more and is a most welcome piece of work. We need more of this freshness and vigour in transport writing and a deeper understanding of the social and economic circumstances that bring transport services to people who need them in parts of the world that are not yet colonized by global bus or train companies. The authors are to be congratulated and I hope others will follow suit.’ John Whitelegg, Stockholm Environment Institute, York University, UK ’Drawing on qualitative and political economy frameworks, the authors take a holistic approach to studying matatu entrepreneurship as a self-organizing industry with a distinctive culture and strategy. A timely study which those interested in business in the new Africa will find useful.’ Kenda Mutongi, Williams College, USA