The dry spell which hit the country at the beginning of 2019 did not spare anyone. The wrath of the scorching sun left everyone complaining of the endless heat during the day and night.
Let us narrow down this story to the dwellers of the ever busy Nairobi, the “Nairobians” When it comes to the city population, no weather is ever perfect. However, the heat waves struck mercilessly and everyone prayed for the rains to come. No one could bear the heat anymore.
After months of praying for the rains, it finally came! The dust settled and the heat vanished. One problem solved, at least.
It is well known that the rains in Kenya come with some challenges, more so in the public transport sector especially with the endless 5 o’clock traffic jam. Most people actually opt to walk to the city from their places of work. That is if the distance is short. There are dreaded times that all Kenyans can testify to:
The Long Queues
Around the famous Archives Building, you can’t fail to notice people hurrying to go catch a matatu at their various bus termini. Long, queues snaking for some metres is always the norm. This gets worse when it rains.
One Tuesday evening, I rushed to the commercial bus terminus to catch a bus plying the busy Mombasa Road. To my shock, there were no buses and the downpour was just getting started.
The long queues of people waiting for a bus made me lose hope of ever getting home in time. The lucky ones with umbrellas could at least shield their head and brace the rain. The unlucky fellows befriended those with umbrellas and some just had to receive the showers of blessings, and soak it all in.
After a long 45 minutes wait, a bus arrived. Now, these are situations where you know the true meaning of every man for himself. People literally fought for that bus. However, the struggle was worth it for those who managed to secure themselves a seat on the bus. The rest of us had no choice but to be patient.
“Mombasa Road wawili” Every head turned ready to get a clear sight of the bus. Hope at last. Imagine the disappointment after realizing that there was no bus but just a cart pusher trying to entertain himself.
“These are moments I wish I could afford a car!” The man behind me stated. I saw it necessary to engage him. Whether his statement was directed towards me or not. Making friends during these times makes the wait seem shorter.
“Me too” I responded just to reiterate his point. You should consider a car loan.
Our conversation was suddenly interrupted by the loud honking of a bus. I luckily managed to fight my way in and within a few minutes, I was seated. I felt like I had conquered the throne. The admiration glances from the ones who were not lucky proved it all. That feeling is hard to describe but you can relate. Right?
Alas! Traffic Jam on Mombasa road just a few minutes into the drive. To me, this was much better than fighting for a bus. After all, I was now guaranteed of getting home.
Hiked Bus Fare
The conductor stood up to collect fare and when he got to me, I whipped out my 200 shillings note and gave it to him. I stretched out my hand to receive my balance. 50 shillings! On a normal day, this trip would cost me 70 shillings. I sucked in all my anger and said nothing because I know how conductors are and I’ve heard a similar experience. It didn’t end well.
Inconveniencing Police CheckPoints
Traffic cleared and we moved with ease. I cosied up and even shut my eyes to power nap. We were stopped at Nyayo Stadium roundabout by police. “Not today,” I said to myself. The driver was requested to park the bus on the roadside for a full inspection.
This is a normal occurrence which takes less than 5 minutes but it took longer than expected to a point where passengers started alighting to look for alternative means of transport.
How would my fifty shillings help? My problems seemed to be increasing. As a matter of fact, there was no way they were going to refund the money. I had no choice but to get out of the bus.
I stood by the roadside and waved at an oncoming motorbike hoping that the rider would stop. To my surprise, he did. I explained to him what had happened and hoped he would help me. I hopped onto the bike and we hit the road.
I got home safe, thanks to the rider. I can only imagine what would have happened if he did not assist.
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Share with us your experiences.