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WALKING-NATION

Gripe of a frustrated matatu user

On Monday, December 3 at 8:30 am, I walked for nearly 20 minutes from deep within Muthurwa Market to Bus Station, where I was to catch another matatu to Chaka Place, which is one and a half kilometers from my work place.

The matatus, which ply my hood – Buruburu – to Nairobi city centre, are to drop passengers off at Muthurwa Market.

The last time I visited the market was 2014 – 4 years ago.

And this Monday, amid the chaos and confusion, I had to weave my way out of the densely populated market. It was such a pain.

“Huwa mnajifanya sana hamuezi tembea. Mtajua hamjui. Matiang’i kiboko yenu,” shouted a visibly drunk man, who carries goods for market-goers at a fee. He cared less about his ignorance on who issued the matatu CBD ban order; according to him, it is Interior CS Fred Matiang’i who can only pull such “radical” shockers.

Moving on, at Bus Station, there were so many KBS and Citi Hoppa buses plying different routes. I did not know which parking lot had Kawangware-bound matatus. Nonetheless, I managed to ask around, and was guided to where the No. 46 matatus were.

As I entered the KBS bus, all I could see were faces of people saying, though to themselves: “Thank you for tracing your way here. We still need at least 5 other passengers to fill this vehicle so that we can leave for our destinations. We have been here for a very long time”.

When I asked one of the matatu crew members why they had to direct people from as far as meters away from where their matatus had parked, she said: “People don’t know this new stage. It has been such a daunting task making passengers aware that they can board Kawangware-bound matatus here.”

I could see the frustration on her face.

And because I was among the last people to board the matatu, I did not wait long for the bus to fill. Luckily, a middle-aged woman got into the vehicle carrying at least three children, who occupied the empty seats. Of course, she paid their bus fare.

Don’t worry how I am using the terms matatu and bus interchangeably. I am just a typical Nairobian, who believes any mass public service transport vehicle operating in the city belongs to the matatu family.

The bus started its journey at 8:50am. By 9:08am, I hadn’t gotten out of a city center bottleneck. Actually, I was still on Haile Sellassie Avenue, a distance which won’t take me 3 minutes to cover if there was no traffic jam.

And by 9:40am, I hadn’t left Uhuru Highway for Kenyatta Avenue. And much relief to me, when the gridlock unlocked at around 9:45am. But it did not flow much as there was yet another minor traffic jam near Panafric Hotel. By this time, I was mad.

On normal days, I would get into the CBD by 8:20am, and by 9am, I would be at work.

Today, I got to the CBD by 8:30am and by 10am, I was not anywhere near work.

I thought to myself: “Just what if the matatus were allowed to drop off passengers into the CBD and leave immediately for those designated points?”

Anyway, I got to work at 10:25am, one hour and twenty minutes later than my reporting time. I felt like a terrible employee.

Tomorrow, I will wake up earlier than 6am.

 

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