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The Nightmare that is Nairobi Roads

Traveling in this country of ours, which we keep been reminded of its beauty, is a night mare. For clarity purposes, I am talking about traveling during the day, and not night, when I mention night mare. Traveling in the night on our highways especially in some parts of the country is just an easy way of getting mugged. The nightmare I am talking about is caused by bad roads, and endemic traffic jams about the city center.

About the bad roads, well you all know about the percentage of tarmacked roads in Kenya(more info available here). As for the tarmacked roads, well they aren't as smooth as they are shown to be on their blue prints. Most are riddled with pot holes which appear as soon as the contractor has tarmacked the next few kilometers ahead. Other defects include sections that are outdone by earth roads in their ability to withstand been washed away by the next moderate rain fall.There is also that issue of unmarked bumps- small hills put on the road and which we are led to believe are meant to slow down speeding drivers rather than give drivers nasty surprises/bumps.

Coming to the capital city, the problem becomes compounded by a prominent characteristic of this city known as traffic jams. Traffic jams in the city can stretch for several kilometers, and will occur at any time of the day, irrespective of whether or not it is rush hour.Thika Road, Mombasa Road and Jogoo Road are a few of the most affected roads, with jams occurring as early as 6.a.m. and Jogoo Road been notorious for gridlocks that stretch past 9.00 p.m.

This jams are as a result of the so called chaotic planning and construction of roads.Roundabouts end up been the major culprit, due to the fact that many Kenyan drivers will meet at a a roundabout and try to race each other out of it. There is also the curious case of T-junctions, an example been the one at the junction of Muranga road and Juja road.

Well, enough blame on the roundabouts. Despite there presence(instead of fly overs), I think that we should be doing well in terms of traffic flow. This is despite the delay they bring. Sadly, this is not the case. Kenyans in general have very strange habits on the road. Kenyans are born with a strong belief that they are the only ones in a hurry to get to their destinations, and that they therefore require the highest priority on a road. As a result, they disregard all other drivers and engage in manouvres that a firefighters truck would never dare.

Such manouvres include squeezing in between vehicles to the extent that a 2 lane road will fit 4 vehicles across. Of course there is the other idiot who drives off the road and and onto the shoulders. Where the shoulders end or are obstructed , the idiot tries bullying their way back into the road again. The rest of the traffic has to slow down in order to accommodate such idiots. The worst moment is when they graze other vehicles as they try another squeeze-in. They then stop to argue with the other driver over who is to pay for the body work scratches,the broken lights ,dented body work and other results of their effort. We wonder why they don't carry a wand of cash, and just pay up when they cause damage then simply continue in their hurry. This idiots usually reduce the rest of the traffic to using half a lane of road they leave as they argue, waiting for the police to come determine who is in the wrong. Now if a number of idiots are engaged in such disputes on a less-than-2-km stretch during rush hour, traffic grinds to a halt as we squeeze beside their cheap(ironically most of this VIP idiots drive cheap cars)cars at the crash scenes . I think that hefty fines should accompany those found to have caused such accidents.

When it comes to roundabouts and junctions, all drivers usually assume that their section has a right of way over all other sections that meet in such junctions. In some areas, drivers even disregard traffic lights; perhaps they confuse them for advertisements. Well the result is quite clear, a vehicle, vehicle A will block one road as it waits for another vehicle, vehicle B to clear from where it is headed to , and the vehicle B in turn waits for the road blocked by the first vehicle, vehicle A to clear .A process referred to as a circular-wait occurs. the result is many vehicles coming into a junction and very few leaving it, and in a short while, a traffic gridlock occurs.

We also have a class of people known as Very Idiotic Persons (VIPs), who police believe that they enjoy a constitutional right to drive along stretches of roads devoid of any other traffic. As such, when such an idiotic person is coming from the airport to see off his friend, the police have to clear major highways of all living and non living objects. When this occurs roads such as Uhuru Highway/Mombasa road,traffic and all living objects are held up. they continue piling up and fill all other roundabouts, junctions and other spaces as they join roads that no vehicle exists from.On such days, an orchestra of stupid Kenyans known as hooters can be heard for several kilometers round the city center.Also, on such days, the city achieves a 24 hour status as pedestrians and motorist arrive at their destination at hours around midnight.

As for the hooters, we will continue researching what faulty chemical reaction takes place in their brains to such an extent that they are convinced that persistent hooting will clear traffic ahead of them. Unfortunately.the cure for this condition does not exist at the moment. We hope that police and the City Council are working quite hard to discover it.

We also hope that the police reforms will touch on the traffic department(yeah, they too blocked traffic from coming into the city after the disputed election) such that idiotic drivers will be charged heftily for their idiocy. We also hope that budget reforms will spend more on improving roads to make them less nightmarish. Least of all, we hope that the VIPs will adopt less disruptive forms of road behavior, or rather get other safer means(not the ones that they fraudulently purchase). We hereby wish that you will soon enjoy nightmare free traveling soon.

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