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The chaotic matatus are Nairobi's staple transportation and now they have a map to show their routes.
The map was researched using a collection of matatu touts — men who round-up passengers at the main stages. Plying them with coffee in exchange for their insider information of the sprawling system, KenyaBuzz was eventually able to plot the matatu roots on Mymap, a Google application. But a geographical version of the map did not work, “It became so complicated and looked messy, it was not very user friendly,” said Gloserova. She decided to make a schematic version, hand-drawing a large design of the routes before giving it over to designers who created the finished product.
Further research and local feedback will improve the accuracy of the map but not everybody is convinced.
“I don’t think it will work, most of the matatus in Nairobi don’t follow instructions, they don’t follow routes,” said Hellen, a waitress in Nairobi who uses matatus everyday. Others are unimpressed by the proposed 200KES price tag ($3). Izzo Macharia, a medical engineer, believes that most Kenyans would view the map as a waste of money.
The target audience is a young demographic that KenyaBuzz believes will appreciate the stylish design and use it to expand their social scene. There are also plans to produce souvenir copies of the map and T-shirts for the tourist market. Alexi Coppinger who is an American volunteer working in Kibera — which claims to be Africa’s biggest slum — said “I think it is a good idea for people who are not use to matatus and the city.”
There is no denying the design feat that it took to plot chaos, nor the potential of tourist interest in a map that would explain the complex system of the capital’s transport system. What remains to be seen is whether the matatus themselves will change their ways, abandon bedlam and actually conform to regulated order.