Waiyaki Way menace again! When will this traffic snarl-up end? Just a few days ago, motorists spent hours stuck in this traffic.
Drivers overlapped creating one of the worst congestion on this uncompleted road. I was late for my prenatal checkups, while my daughter was late for her school reporting day. In fact, we were late by a day or two, I do not remember what the circular said.
“Mama, are you okay?” little Jasmine asked. She was sitting at the back and could clearly see from the rearview mirror that I was so frustrated and fuming at how incompetent drivers would spoil one’s day. In the morning!!! Mark you!
She stared helplessly as I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, impatient as ever, in a rhythmic pattern that did not match the local music on the radio. I sighed and put my head on the steering wheel in a bid to ease the tension.Matatus at traffic snarl-up along Waiyaki Way in NairobiKenyans.co.ke
“Why are you driving haphazardly? Slow down and stop changing lanes!” I shouted and honked at a PSV driver who nearly rammed into us.
The rude conductor shouted something back that I did not hear after I rolled up my window. The tout aboard the matatu alighted and knocked on the glass. He seemed ready for a fight. I ignored.
Thousands of scenarios played through my head. I resisted the urge to roll down the window and face off with him.
“It’s a New Year Ciku, calm down,” a voice in my head, a voice of reason whispered. I picked a bottle of water on the passenger’s seat and drained the water out of the poor plastic which begged for mercy as I crushed it in my hand.
I wished for those days when well-moving traffic was more normal, the air was sweeter, the birds were audible. But a slower pace has settled in our city-souls.
What if the roads were a playset that came with a few cars? Countless promises of managing this situation, building termini outside the city, expanding roads, adding traffic marshalls.
Yet all we faced were diversions and road closures without notice. I saw a lady peeping outside a matatu window and I pitied her. Maybe she was late for work, on her reporting day? A guy on the next window was leaning on his seat, his eyes closed.
Was he thinking about January and school fees like me? I recently saw a meme on Twitter trolling those who spent their money in December, claiming that they would now feast on cabbages.
I laughed and told Jasmine that I was okay, further explaining that I was rushing to pay her fees and drop her at school. She looked outside and I saw her reflection on the rear door glass. I adjusted her window, pushed it up after I saw some parking boys roaming around.
30 minutes later, I hit the accelerator pedal and sped past a few matatus that had stopped in the middle of the lane. One matatu had rammed into the other and a traffic officer was busy solving the issue.
I nearly hit another officer who was crossing the road after directing traffic on the other lane. The tires screeched after I quickly hit the brake and navigated the car towards the newly built wall in Kangemi.
There was this silence that engulfed us before I checked whether I had my seat belt on. It then dawned on me. Jasmine! I looked back at my daughter who was a little bit scared.
“You okay baby?” I asked. She nodded before I heard someone knock on my glass. A traffic cop.
He was angry. I bet. He hates you! He will arrest you! Just drive away! Run! Ohh nooo! You are going to jail! My eyes wandered in his direction while my head stayed forward.
He knocked persistently. I gave in. “Step out of your car!” he shouted. “Unataka kugonga afande! (You want to knock down a police boss)” he retorted.
Another cop rushed by as I stepped out, looking as remorseful as I think I have ever been in my entire 32 years on earth.
The whole world froze. I did not know why. “You are expectant, yet driving like a maniac,” the officer I nearly knocked down stated.
“And she has a kid in the back seat too,” the other added. I wanted to apologise but words could not come out. I was so frustrated, angry, sad, remorseful and… I don't even know the other feelings.
“Have a seat and calm down,” the officer whose life was on the line a few minutes ago urged me. “Where are you rushing to?” he asked. The matatu that nearly knocked into us passed by. I saw the conductor peeping, wondering what happened to me.
“My mother is going to the doctor and she also has to pay my fees and drop me at school,” Jasmine, the courageous Jasmine weighed in.
I explained that I was rushing to the bank first then heading towards Ngong Road for my prenatal.
“Which bank?” the cop asked. Did he want to drive me to the bank first before taking me to the police station? I wondered. “Co-op Bank. I have an account there and the school does too,” I responded.
“Can I see your driver’s licence?” he inquired as the other cop moved towards the windscreen to inspect my insurance.
“Okay, Wanjiku. Sorry for the traffic snarl-up. I understand your situation. Since you have a Co-op account, you can just visit the nearest Co-op Jirani agent and deposit cash in the school’s Co-op Bank account for free! You will get a receipt showing the payment details
“The Co-op Jirani agents are open seven days a week till late night, so you can transact with them any day, any time. There are a number of them here in Kangemi and nearly everywhere, even in your estate,” he advised.
The other cop who was inspecting my insurance was directed to escort me to the Co-op Jirani agent as the other boss guarded my car with Jasmine inside. It was easy peasy, a few minutes later I was back with Jasmine and waited to be charged.
“You are free to leave, but watch out next time,” the police boss stated. “I wish you a great day and check-up too. You can find your way via Westlands, through James Gichuru Road, towards Ngong Road,” he added and returned my driver’s licence.
“Thank you. Thank you so much,” I responded and drove off. Traffic had eased.
“Story of my life,” the radio host on the show I was listening to stated, in response to a call made by a parent who discussed raising school fees and taking children back to school in January.
“Story of my life too!” the voice in my head responded.A parent and her son outside a Coop Jirani shop