It’s a time bomb! There are definitely many more Kenyans who are yet to die from road accidents as long as we continue to keep mum. Matatu drivers seem to be high on some cheap drugs. I wonder if some of them have ever been to a driving school, it sickens. Many seem to have made a decision; they no longer care about humanity as long as they make money.
As a Kenyan, I feel scared anytime I get into a matatu! The current wave of mad matatu drivers on our roads is alarming. I am one Kenyan looking forward to the phasing out of the so-called 14-seater vehicles, hoping that finally we may have some sanity on our roads.
What I saw last Friday, left me with no option but head to the traffic boss to report this specific matatu driver. Coming from a long trip, I took a taxi home, simply because I wanted to make it on time for another function at 6pm in town. On reaching at Langata, I realised I still had 30 more minutes and as is the norm in Kenya, nothing starts at the exact time. So I decided to release my taxi guy and explained to him that I could still make it back to town even by matatu. I figured out that I will be going against the jam, so it will be a smooth flow.
I had an invitation to attend the launch of the documentary, “In search of my father,” a film showing the life and death of Prominent Kenyan Politician James M. Kariuki at the Alliance Française auditorium. With only 15 minutes to 6pm, I boarded a matatu. As we headed to Langata road, I realized that there will be traffic jam and I was definitely going to be late. This specific matatu was full with 14 passengers. With the rush hour in Nairobi starting at 5pm, all matatus rush back to town so that they can overcharge passengers as they head back home. So they do anything, flout all traffic rules just to make it in town.
Still on Langata road, it was getting to 6pm. Just like any other Kenyan I didn’t mind the driver over speeding just a little. But clearly, there was no such opportunity at all so I consoled myself, nothing starts on time and after all, better late than never.
As we approached Uchumi Hyper, both lanes, to town and from town had huge traffic jam. But my driver together with other drivers, decided they could not wait any longer. Instead, they found a new route in between the lane. There are trees planted in between these lanes. People spend government money to plant and take care of these trees, but guess these drivers don’t know about this. I watched these drivers violate traffic rules, I wanted to raise my voice, but I thought, ok, I am seated at the very back. There are those seated with the driver, or even close to the driver, why can’t they give him some sense and actually tell him whatever he is doing is wrong.
I was yet to see the worst. Finally at Uchumi Hyper, I was convinced that we have mad drivers in Kenya. Picture this. We are on Langata Road to town, opposite it, is Langata Road from town. These are separated by a small pavement. Not one but several matatus, crossed the road and drove from the opposite lane. Honestly, these were accidents in the waiting. How does a driver leave the right lane and go to the opposite lane where there is an absolute chance of head on collision? I felt really agitated and finally I thought it was time I did something, at least for the rest of the people in this particular matatu. In other countries, many will lose their driving license for such stupidity, at least in Norway they will.
I managed to raise my voice from the back seat and told the driver, he was wrong and that he risked the lives of the rest of us in the matatu. He of course ignored me. So I decided to talk to the conductor. I gave him a piece of my mind. The other 12 Kenyans just watching and listening to me make noise all alone.
The conductor and the driver conversed in a language I didn’t understand then the conductor turned to me and said, “I am sorry madam, this will not happen again.” But this was just a mere promise. 10 minutes later, we were still on the same game. At this time I thought someone else will take the initiative, but I was greatly mistaken. No one seemed say a word at all. So I decided to take it upon myself once more. This time round, it was not an easy job. The foul-mouthed driver of course throwing all sorts of insults at me and at one point asking me, “Kwani wewe ni traffic” (Are you a traffic).
Just to put some humour on this, I politely asked him “ Traffic ni nani? Kuna mtu anaitwa Traffic kweli? (Who is a traffic?”) Of course this left the rest of the passengers laughing, something that made the driver even more furious. “Wewe usiniletee stress zako na bwanako, utanifundisha kazi? Unaona kama nimelewa?” (If you have stress with your husband, do not transfer the same to me, do not teach me my job. Do you think I am drunk?)
You guessed right that I reported this particular driver to the police, yes I did. I promised to call the police later today. I will do so and explain to you in my next blog post what happened in this particular incident!
Accidents, and particularly street and highway accidents, do not happen – they are caused. ~Ernest Greenwood