More Kenyans to die from Reckless Driving!

Headed for a burial!

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.

Traffic Jam in Kibarani, Mombasa

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.

Langata Road

Traffic Jam along Thika Highway

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.

Traffic Congestion in Nairobi

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.

Foul-mouthed drivers

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.

Traffic Jam in Nairobi City.

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?)

Traffic Jam along Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi

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

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17 thoughts on “More Kenyans to die from Reckless Driving!

  1. Thanks for recognizing this. Imagine its also happening in Mombasa. especially Msa- Mikindani Highway

    1. Thanks Angelica for your feedback. What happens when such things happen, do people talk to these drivers and ask them to stop such madness? I call it madness because, I least expect a driver in all his senses to act in such a way. Lets take it as our own responsibility to put some sense into these drivers. Do your part, I will do mine!

  2. this is a sad truth, there needs to be change in the matatu industry. We kenyans need to speak up in order to save our lives. Thanks Patience for the article, i can relate very well.

    1. Hey Florence, thank you for taking time to read my blog and leave your comment. I absolutely agree with you that we need to speak up in order to save our lives. At a wink of an eye, one is no more, so its important to be extremely carefully on our roads, together we can do it!

  3. Patience, how are you? Long time since we have spoken/ texted. Good that you told the driver and the conductor that they did something seriously dangerouse, Patience! It is crazy how they drive. Proud of you for doing something that all the others should have done aswell. I guess they don`t dare, or that they are to used to it, and turned off the “I´m sceard” or “I don`t want to die in a terrible traffic accident” switch in they´re head…..

    1. Hey Ann Therese,

      How are you, hope all is well with you. I am good. Yes, its been a while since we last spoke. I have had a busy schedule with your fellow country men. I am sorry for the silence, I will write and call you soon. Its crazy how reckless these matatu drivers can be, they never seem to care about humanity, their only focus is money and how to make more money especially during rush hour, money that the matatu owners never get to see! Anyway, I know its my responsibility and that of another Kenyan to change this society, it might take a while but it is possible!

  4. Hey gal…I concur with you on this…who will stop this menace?Motorists whether driving matatus or personal cars should learn to obey traffic rules at all times..Unlike the days of the late Hon.John Michuki when though who flouted the traffics rules faced heavy penalties….we have come to the time where there is a lot of complacency….That is why we are experiencing road carnage! May GOD help us.May we have responsible Kenyans who obeys rules at all times.Thanks for sharing.
    Kind regards.

    Posted: 16 h, 37 m ago By: Margaret Mwangi

  5. I guess this is everywhere huh…Even in Zambia we have such reckless Matatu drivers and useless conductors indeed , I guess the law enforcements are not strict enough to tackle such issues, Its amazing how organized traffic is where I am here in Norway, we too can establish some similar system too and put some tougher rules.

    We will get there, plus we are the future, and we can make a difference as we learn on these exchange programs we have been through.

    Posted: 9 h, 11 m ago By: Joel Sangulukani Simwinga

  6. Hey Margaret and Joel,

    Great to read your feedback and your thoughts on this. As I said, it is a time bomb, if we are not careful, we will continue losing more and more lives on careless driving.

    We can make the world a better place if you and I took some responsibility towards safe driving.

    Patience

  7. the 14 seater matatu is an endless source of suffering for an organized commuter in our disorganized urban transport sector. while the proposal to phase out the matatus remains on course, you can feel the wave of official sabotage coming from Nairobi. the idea being that those charged with implementing the policy have vested interest either way. the policy dialogue has shifted from the technocrats to the politicians. while technocrats see the social-economic cost of having matatus , the average politician sees the political cost of not having them….this is a drama that will have a sad ending. certainly self regulation has failed, i’ts time matatus gave us a break! lastly Patience, well done for standing up (well, you were seated)against the rowdy driver…..asituletee stress zake na bangi yake au kukosa pesa ya kununua mugombera!

  8. I toured Africa from Namibia to Tansania, and went through Kenya just to catch my plane (although further “exploration” is intended), but still I had my most frightening matatu experience here. The guy was passing another matatu (that had passed us before!!!) while there was oncoming traffic and quite a few donkeys in the middle of the road in front of us.
    I lost my calm that moment, but guess I was misbehaving, because as often in Africa I was the only one. Guess I was brought up that way ;-).
    To make it even better the surpassed matatu again passed us just moments later.

    1. Hey, Thank you for your story on Kenyan Matatus,I know it can be strange for new people visiting. We will try our best to ensure that there will be a change in this country. I believe it can happen, one day one time! Thank you for reading my blog.

  9. Great article! I loved the insight as well as the advice given . In addition, your writing style is very pleasing to read. If you have time please take a look at my new blog and tell me what you think.

  10. Hi Patience; well you told a story there about matatu drivers and their madness but i guess you need to get more details on how the business is conducted and who really drives this matatus. i recommend you check on this blog by a matatu driver from Rongai. maybe you could help in reforming the industry.

      1. The blogger is me; my link- wambururu.wordpress.com. you can also click on my photo to see the complete profile. you can be very helpful to the matatu industry if only you can please look at the positive side of our story; the matatu story.
        you have a nice blog.

  11. You did it well. Kenya needs leadership that will help to train young kenyans on the importance of morality. This old generation is like dead in sin.

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