In the bustling city of Nakuru, where the daily grind meets the chaotic charm of public transport, there exists a group of individuals known as “setis.”
These unsung heroes of the matatu industry play a unique role that often goes unnoticed by the average commuter.
As you board a matatu, you might notice a few passengers already seated inside.
However, what you might not realize is that some of these seemingly ordinary passengers are placeholders, strategically placed to make the vehicle appear occupied.
Meet Elijah Wa Tene, a young man who has been a seti for two years.
Speaking To Mtaa Wangu, a Nakuru based website, Elijah Claims that his day begins at the crack of dawn, around 6:00 am, and stretches until the evening, ending at 6:00 pm.
During these hours, Elijah, like many other setis, meticulously acts out a charade of busyness – pretending to talk on the phone, flipping through magazines, or simply staring into the distance.
His purpose is clear: to create the illusion of a filled matatu, enticing wary commuters to step on board.
Elijah’s job is not as simple as it might seem.
He explains that he can be a placeholder for up to 20 different vehicles in a single day. He earns Ksh 20 bob in each vehicle
This task becomes especially challenging in the morning when passenger numbers are scarce. Despite the potential inconvenience this ruse might cause to unsuspecting passengers, Elijah emphasizes that this is his livelihood. He, along with his fellow setis, ensures that matatus do not appear empty, a sight that might dissuade potential customers from boarding.
The motivation behind this elaborate act is simple – money. Elijah earns around sh.20 per vehicle, and the cumulative income at the end of the month is enough to sustain his bachelor lifestyle, covering all his necessary expenses.
In a city where employment opportunities are scarce and competition is fierce, becoming a seti is a pragmatic choice for many young individuals like Elijah.
However, this practice is not without its challenges. One of the main hurdles setis face is avoiding the ire of passengers who might discover the ruse.
To circumvent this, setis like Elijah have developed sly techniques. They exit the matatu discreetly, often feigning a need for a restroom, and swiftly hop onto the next vehicle, perpetuating the cycle of their unique employment.