Saturday, 2 October 2010

Hurrying Matatus

For months, I have felt the urge to write about the many accidents we see on Kenyan roads, but like many times before, I will leave that for another pots. However, closely related, I shall be post about matatu's and the fact that they are always in a hurry. This results in accidents on several occasions.

Friday afternoon on Murang'a road was the scene of a vehicle partly submerged in a water hole resultant of an unfilled trench on the ongoing roadworks. This was the second vehicle that day in that same position, and was a matatu.

To make matters worse, it looked like the culprit driver drove right through into the water. Given it was a route 6 matatu, am figuring the driver may have mistaken the more than 1 metre deep trench to be one of the ponds that he encounters in Eastleigh.

My next ride home was similarly dramatic. The Citi Hoppa bus driver could not join Moi Avenue since he had parked ahead of the exit and the traffic policeman insisted that the guy could not reverse, which is illegal. Well, the driver decided to be clever enough and ignore the next turning and drive down Ronald Ngala street and later to Jogoo road. Now, if you have never been to Ronald Ngala street, its a crazy street to drive in. You drive painfully slowly through the street as you wait for empty buses and matatus to pick up passengers in the middle of the street. The maneuvre earned the driver a lot of abuse, especially from the female passengers. I do not know why women fancy calling people unprintable names in an argument. Meanwhile, the passengers at the front were wise to keep their mouths shut. It is unwise to pour abuse on someone who has the potential of ramming a bus-load into a truck at high speed while you are still aboard the bus.

Over some other matatu rides, I have watched a driver go round a vehicle that was joining the main road, a maneuver that took longer than it would have to wait for the vehicle. At some other time, I have sat calmly as our driver made a quick dash into a round about and a tipper truck made an emergency stopping a few meters away. Another occasion, I watched an amused 18 wheel truck driver watch as a matatu driver who had run the lights missed the container by inches.

And this brings me to the question. Why are matatu drivers always in a hurry to a point that defies common sense?

It seems that the rest of the drivers, other than those who just bought new vehicles, have surrendered to letting matatus bully them. Drivers nowadays will almost always give way to matatus, except for the dude that bought a new car or some odd lady. Both have been informed that they should not be bullied around, and as a result, you will often find them with parked cars on the road arguing over who should foot the bill for the scratches. Worse still, you will find that they have blocked some lane as they attempt to join a lane that has not moved for several minutes. "Do not join junction until exit is clear" usually sounds strange to them.

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