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ELECTION 2022

Matatu crews reap big in campaign branding

CENTRAL
By George Njunge and Phares Mutembei | Apr 6th 2022 | 3 min read
A matatu in Kiambu shows how politicians in Kiambu have used Public Service Vehicles, branding them with their posters [George Njunge, Standard]

Public Service Vehicles in Kiambu County are making a killing from politicians seeking to have their banners displayed.

For each banner to appear on the rear windshield one has to part with Sh2,000.

Many politicians seem to have bought into the trend as campaigns continue to hot up.

So attractive is the latest advertising style that even seasoned politicians are joining in. 

Mr Peter Wainaina, a matatu driver plying the Githunguri-Thika route as well as the Limuru-Nakuru Road, said business is booming.

According to Mr Wainaina, the politicians pay Sh2,000 every Friday for the posters.

“We are doing good business during this political period. I have four vehicles; two plying Thika road and two plying the Limuru route. Therefore, every Friday I pocket Sh8,000,” he said.

Mr Wainaina further added that their clients target matatu routes to areas with a high number of voters.

Aspirants eyeing seats in county assemblies, Parliament, senator as well as the governor position are competing to have their posters displayed on matatus.

Latest trend

Mr Nelson Munga, who is vying for Ndeiya MCA, said matatus are the latest way of campaigning. 

“The matatus are ever on the move, ferrying people I am hoping will vote for me. For me so far, the impact has been good,” said Mr Munga, who pays an average of Sh10,000 every week.

However, a senior police officer in Meru has said it is illegal for PSVs to have campaign posters on rear windows.

Imenti North police boss Alexander Makau spoke as the number of vehicles with posters increased in the area.

Politicians in Meru say the matatus are convenient and have a wide reach.

Mr Gilbert Kimaita, eyeing an MCA position, said many political hopefuls opted to popularise themselves by blasting their images on the matatu windscreens.

He said the plan is convenient for hopefuls who have scarce resources and cannot afford expensive billboards.

“The vehicles are a good way to sell ourselves because they go to so many destinations. People along the route and the terminus can see my face and know the seat I am running for,” Mr Kimaita added.

Many vehicles heading to Meru, Nkubu, Timau, Maua, Igoji, Kianjai and other destinations have campaign posters across the back windows. But the police boss said even though it is campaign season, the act is illegal.

He said having campaign posters on the rear windscreen is the same as tinting the window, which is against traffic laws as it compromises safety.

Mr Makau said the rule on keeping the rear windscreen clear can be relaxed as we get closer to the election, but not at the moment.

He added that grassroots officers had sought direction from Inspector General of Police Hillary Mutyambai on how to deal with the issue.

“Having posters on the rear of the vehicle is illegal because it is a threat. The driver cannot see vehicles behind him through his rearview mirror,” the OCPD said. The police commander said by not having a clear view of the vehicles behind, drivers run the risk of causing accidents.

“We are waiting for directions from the IG. As of now it is against the Traffic Act but maybe it will be relaxed when campaigns pick up,” Mr Makau said.

A driver who asked not to be named said a politician gave him Sh5,000 to have his poster on his vehicle for a month.

“The politician is also from my village, so I am comfortable having his poster on my vehicle. Although the one month we agreed on is almost over, I still won’t remove the poster.” 

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