One-armed tout carves niche in matatu industry

Joel Wanjohi was born with one arm. After failing to get a job, he ventured into the transport industry as a conductor, defying all odds stacked against him

Roy Lumbe

If Joel Wanjohi conformed to the dictates of society, he would today be huddled on a street corner in Nakuru Town, bowl in hand, begging for a living.

But Wanjohi, who was born with one arm, is no conformer. When you meet him in Nakuru Town, he is either chasing a matatu, perched perilously on the door, or shouting himself hoarse calling for customers.

Many people questioned his decision to venture into the matatu business since the usual antics of touts of hanging on moving vehicles seemed a daunting task.

        Talk of town

It is now three years since he ventured into the industry. He has become a point of admiration among his fellow touts and passengers.

Despite the many challenges, Wanjohi has managed to make a name for himself both in the 3NS main stage and the Kiti-Maili sita and Bahati routes where he operates.

Wanjohi has become the talk of town because  he has perfected his art through discipline and hard work.

“The first thing in this industry if you want prosper is discipline and hard work, the two will go a long way in ensuring you remain effective in the job,” says Wanjohi.

Wanjohi says growing up as a child was hard and he was teased to a point he refused to go to school. His family, especially his mum stood up for him, prodding him to do his best and he could become anything he wanted to be.  He eventually finished high school.


He says he went to a local college and studied electrical wiring, but after searching for a job for a long time, he decided to venture into the matatu business.

His employer was at first uncomfortable with the fact that he only had one arm, but he proved himself through hard work.

“I studied electrical wiring and after a long search for a job, I decided to venture into the matatu business. My driver was at first  uncomfortable giving me the job, but he later employed me after he saw my skills,” says Wanjohi.

His main challenge in the industry is when dealing with drunkards who at times tease him. Carrying heavy luggage is also a challenge.

According to him, respect for everyone is important. He loves his work because it puts food on the table. Wanjohi’s driver, Collins Muhoro, is full of praise for the 27-year-old saying he does his work with commitment. adding that he defied all odds to become his best tout.

He says they have worked together since 2015. He has never received any complaints about him.

“This young man is my real definition of determination. He approached me for work and I was not sure if he was up to the task since he does not have one arm. We have worked for three years together and I have never heard any complaints about him. He is disciplined and an inspiration to people living with disability,” he says.

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