Somebody is going to get murdered on Nairobi roads.
And not because of carjackers or criminals or floods or landslides; but because of traffic. It is getting out of hand and something needs to be done NOW!
I left a certain apartment complex in Kilimani with a list of errands and a smile on my face. I have come to expect traffic during certain hours, so when I saw cars backed up on Dennis Pritt Road, I shrugged it off and assumed that our President was going home and so State House Road was blocked off.
Being the smart ass I am, I took a panya route. The plan was to cut through that Arwings Kodhek, Silver Springs round-a-bout and go down Valley Road and hopefully find a way to my favorite campus. Like so:
Jesus Christ on a f**kin’ pogo stick, I couldn’t believe it. People were standing around blocking the traffic. I banged on the car horn several times and they turned at me and laughed then kept walking and talking. I rolled down my window so angered that I couldn’t muster up curse words fast enough. Then I noticed that a large number of car doors were open and engines turned off. Before I could say “What the… ” it dawned on me what was happening. The apocalypse.
I began flipping through the radio stations waiting to hear an announcer tell me that the Messiah had descended upon Uhuru Park while looking in the sky for signs of asteroid showers. Instead all I heard was music(bad, bad, BAD music) and all I saw were clear skies. I looked over at the car next to me and this chick literally had a book out and her kid tucked in under covers in the backseat. Matatus were empty as people had decided to walk instead of sitting there letting their underwears soak in asscrack juice. And somebody was having a picnic on the hood of his car.
Meanwhile, I’m sitting there drumming my fingers against the steering wheel, listening to Kiss FM ironically playing some song titled “Speeding” by some twat who can’t sing(Omarion), as though they were bent on messing with my head.
I looked at my watch. An hour had passed. I actually double checked to make sure I wasn’t tripping. In front of me, cars were stalling, street vendors were selling 500/= credit for 600/= and conductors were looking for change as they lost all their passengers to the traffic. One gent climbed on top of his car in an attempt to look down Valley road and perhaps see the promise land of Nairobi in the horizon(as shown on map).
I was sitting there, simmering; sinking in my seat, clenching my teeth, wishing I had a box of small animals that I could throw against a wall, watch them squeal and splatter as I screamed in rage.
I like to think I’m a pretty calm guy. In fact, on most days, one would struggle to get a complaint out of me. But with the compounded effect of innefficient service providers, poverty, work and family related stress and traffic, I was ready to bludgeon an innocent bystander with a monkey wrench. Set a spare tire on fire and launch it at some smug pedestrian or that passenger on the bus staring a little bit too long. What the f**k are you looking at, ass?!? I’ll cut you with this….with this…..car key!!! I wanted to calm down, but all I could think of was loading my guns up and running down the street squeezing the triggers. I did not recognize myself anymore.
A few years ago a few friends and I were driving from Washington DC to New York for a bachelor party. It was just after rush hour, so we found ourselves in that sudden explosion of traffic that occurs when the inner city congestion clears and highways no longer have speed limit signs. Cars were flying by, zig zagging recklessly, as we joyrode, oblivious to their urgency. Somewhere in Philadelphia, this Toyota cut across 3 lanes, muscling in front of about 4 other cars before planting itself in front of us. We hit the brakes and cursed and then quickly reverted back to talking about the strip clubs we would soon invade. The driver next to us however, had something else on his mind. He sped up until he was side by side with the guy in front of us. We saw him roll down his window.
A single gunshot and screaming screeching tires.
I never found out what really happened but it all seemed senseless to me until today. Somebody is going to get beaten to death on a Nairobi highway if nothing happens to appease this traffic. Lucky for you, I have a plan.
1.When you’re(and by ‘you’, I mean ‘China’) done with the roads, build a train system.
I’ve heard a million and one reasons why Subways can’t be built. Cool. Build one of the cool overhead trains then. We’ll make the city look futuristic and cut down on anger related crimes. Plus, people can commute safely, quickly and without cars. And did I mention it would look cool?
Encourage Enforce Carpooling.
Carpooling, because you guys obviously don’t do it, is sharing a ride with your neighbor who works next to you instead of you, his wife, his kids all getting into 16 cars and driving in the same direction. Build Carpool lanes, educate the people. It cuts down on the number of cars. Saves money. Increases security because less drivers are travelling alone. Yadda yadda yadda. It’s a fuggn awesome idea. Do it.
3. Divert Large Vehicles from CBD
I’ll take that a step further. No commercial vehicles weighing more than whatever a truck weighs should be on any major road between 6am and 11pm. I repeat. They(trailers, lorries, etc..) should not drive THROUGH the city during business hours. They drive around it. Don’t ask why. Just know that this is brilliant and you must do it.
4. Limit PSV Routes
Ehm, yeah. There is zero-reason why Westlands matatus/buses should ever be on that stretch between Wayaki Way and Museum Hill. Actually, all the way down to Main Campus. Go through the back, thanks. Same goes for any matatu on Mombasa Road and a few other roads. Do the research, government. That’s what we pay you for.
5. STOP COMMUTING DURING RUSH HOURS
Yes YOU! You f*cking communists!! Every time a government official gets on the road, we’re stopped while (s)he passes. Listen, I’m happy you’re going home after a long day of discussing what you think our problems are. But let me tell you what our problem is: we have shit to do, you have a helicopter. LEAVE OUR ROADS ALONE! Don’t argue. Just do it. Alternatively, decentralize governmental offices to Machakos or Athii River and let us go about our business in peace. Because otherwise, nobody will ever get things done, while you rush home to pick up that document you forgot.
Do this and it may just save your life. I hear drivers are getting homicidal.
Thank me later.
They probably won’t listen to me until someone gets shot and that’s sad. All I know is it will not be me as I have categorically refused to drive during rush hour without a steady supply of Percocet and Klonapin.