Tuma Fare: Taxi Driver Saves Stranded Woman in Nairobi CBD

  • Taxi drivers at a parking lot in Nairobi
    Taxi drivers at a parking lot in Nairobi
  • Memes for individuals asking for fares went viral since Nairobi governor, Johnson Sakaja, stated that school-going children will not pay fares while boarding PSVs.

    But the condition was that the students had to wear school uniforms. Now can you imagine a 26-year-old in a school uniform trying to avoid paying the fare in this chilly and rainy Nairobi weather? 

    Haa! I couldn’t stop laughing when I pictured myself in a school uniform. 

    Anyways, last Saturday morning, kiliumana. I got stranded inside a cab on my way from Roysambu to Moi Avenue on a date. 

    Have you ever looked at your M-Pesa balance and wondered what to do? Unaskia kufuliza, but ahem! 

    You are that person with two SIM Cards who always asks anyone who is sending you money not to send it to the line with Fuliza.

    Nitumie kwa hiyo line ingine. Fuliza is too expensive. It helps me sort out my issues, but I haven’t paid for the one I took last time,” this was always my typical answer. I even contemplated saving it as an emergency reply on my text app to avoid typing it now and then. 

    Now, the problem was that very day, I had forgotten my other line at home while I was in a rush to leave for town. 

    I had just sent my mother Ksh10,000 to repair her fridge, had paid for an online exam too and done my mid-month shopping. Our salary was due in a week, and thus it was quite a tough time for somebody’s son to ask me out on a date. 

    Normally, I pay my fare and even sometimes contribute to the bill. I am not that girl who takes photos of the food and the exclusive joint to share reels on Facebook and Instagram. I’d buy a water bottle or pay for juice and other drinks. 

    Thika Road, Nairobi

    Anyways, one or two photos, hapa na pale, won’t hurt for social media. 

    That morning, I had to ask Jimmy, my date, to send the fare. 

    Niko kwa cab, ebu tuma fare. App says it's Ksh500 to town,” I texted him. 

    He first sent a text with a laughing emoji. Then replied, “In a few.” 

    I thought he would ask, “In a cab, from Roysambu?” I laughed out loud, and the taxi driver turned to join in my laughter, clearly not privy to my texting. 

    At that moment, we were speeding into the Globe Cinema via Thika Road, right into a traffic snarl-up. 

    What a day! To compound the issue, the grey sky that was sweeping over the busy street opened its floodgates, and the rain started pounding quite hard in the first minutes, then receding. 

    Passengers who had alighted from the buses, as is the norm, around Globe Cinema’s overpass were struggling to run back into the buses. One tout closed the door, and my taxi driver laughed. 

    I just stared, seeing how souls scattered across the city, grappling with bustling through the streets, not stopping to look at anyone. Even those who sell mitumbas along that road towards Koja Mosque were busy wrapping their items. 

    The buses and cars then lit their headlights. We were now heading towards the Koja roundabout. Today, even the traffic officers weren’t in the vicinity. 

    “Today’s quite a chilly day,” the taxi driver stated, breaking the silence that had engulfed the car. 

    “Yes,” I responded. I wish he knew I didn’t even know how I'd get out of that cab. 

    Luckily, my phone rang. An SMS notification. I hoped it was different from those Safaricom updates. You know. Dial… to stay informed with the latest football World Cup fixtures….

    Ahhaaa! M-Pesa, finally. 

    Download M-Pesa App or dial *334# to enjoy Fuliza services
    Download M-Pesa App or dial *334# to enjoy Fuliza services

    I wish you’d have seen my smile. They always say I have a beautiful smile. Don’t ask me who ‘they’ are. Haa! Don’t worry. I wish I’d tagged a photo of my red-lipsticked smile and the stretching of my black eye pencil-drawn eyebrows. 

    My make-up that day was quite light. Just a little touch. I didn’t want my beauty screaming across the room. Anyways I smiled with my lips and the lilt of my voice, “At last.” 

    But the shock that was staring in my face was greater than that of Lionel Messi after Argentina lost 2-1 to minions Saudi Arabia in the 2022 World Cup. 

    Fuliza! Is that you? Confirmed. Ksh1,000 has been deducted to partially pay your outstanding Fuliza M-PESA. Your available Fuliza M-PESA limit is Ksh… I stopped reading and laughed at myself. 

    I had forgotten to tell Jimmy that I had a Fuliza loan of Ksh1,200, and I had paid in one month. 

    Tumefika. Are you paying by cash or by M-Pesa,” the cab driver asked, smiling, thinking I was in quite a happy mood. 

    Kidogo tu. The money I received a minute ago has been consumed by Fuliza,” I responded as I called Jimmy, but he didn’t pick up. 

    “Stranded in a cab. Today I’d find myself on Twitter, going viral,” that voice, you know it, that always condemns you, shouted in my eardrums. 

    I thought I saw the driver’s eyebrows twitch, then drawn together to form a 'V' on the lower part of the forehead, just above his nose - angry? Then he smiled and warmed up to me. 

    “No need to worry. I understand. Fuliza changed its model. You can transact more now using your limit, repay on time and borrow again.

    “I use it more often nowadays when I have insufficient funds in my wallet,” he stated. 

    I was intrigued. “Ah, really?” 

    “Yes, Fuliza is now even more affordable. Up to 50 per cent cost reduction in daily maintenance fee. 

    “No maintenance fee for the first three days for Ksh1,000/- and below balance. Once you pay back on time and faster, your limit grows offering you more flexibility,” the cab driver stated. 

    He added that before, Fuliza charged a Ksh6 maintenance fee for a draft within Ksh101-500. Now it charges Ksh3

    For Ksh501-1000 overdrafts, it charges you Ksh6 rather than the Ksh12 before. 

    You can transact more now using your Fuliza limit, repay on time and borrow again. Download the M-Pesa App or dial *334# to enjoy Fuliza services
    You can transact more now using your Fuliza limit, repay on time and borrow again. Download the M-Pesa App or dial *334# to enjoy Fuliza services

    “It also charges a maintenance fee of Ksh21.6, Ksh24, and Ksh30 for overdrafts of Ksh1001-1500, Ksh1501-2500 and Ksh2501-7000.

    “Before it used to charge Ksh24, Ksh30 and Ksh36 respectively,” he added. 

    “What about the access fee?” I asked. 

    Ahh hiyo. It remained unchanged.

    Asap, into my M-Pesa and fulizad him. No need for two lines now. Oh, sorry, my bad. You can opt-in or check your Fuliza balance via the M-PESA App or dial *334#. 

    “Thank you. Nimepata. You could have won a school uniform and taken the bus. Hungelipa fare,” the cab driver added as we laughed, reminding me of how I pictured myself in a school uniform. 

    The rain had reduced in intensity. Anyways, I was going to have some warm coffee and a good hug. 

    Asante sana dere. Ushinde poa,” I bid the cab driver goodbye as I jumped over a pool of water. Hmm, weren’t my rubber shoes (ngoma) accustomed to such weather?

    Haya usisahau handbag,” the driver responded, prompting me to go back to pick it up.

    My precious black stilettos were hiding somewhere inside, waiting to hug my shoes and pinch the floor every time I moved my legs in a sweet rhythm. 

    If it would have been a sunny day, I would have swayed a little.

    Jimmy called, but I didn’t pick up as I saw him grinning across the table at the restaurant. 

    “Sorry about the missed call,” he stated as he pulled me into a warm hug. I loved his cologne. 

    An illustration of a romantic dinner set up