As a pedestrian of several years, I have been noticing things about the likely mental state of drivers on our roads today and it is terrifying to watch.
We had an autism awareness activity at Capital Centre along the dreadful Mombasa Road – it is jammed with traffic even on weekends and is a nightmare like few others are for motorists especially on weekdays during the morning and evening rush hours. Thika Road now has a superhighway – China, we thank you – and traffic moves quite fast on that route. The only other rival in the Nairobi roads menace during the dark hours neighbouring 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. is Langata Road. I lived in that area for 3 months and read more books than I had in months simply because at least 2 hours of each day would be dedicated to sitting in snail-slow traffic snarl-ups for stretches of tarmac and murram road.
So back to Capital Center. Having gone on and on about raising funds to support children with autism, my feet began to hurt and the sun left me darker than I already am. Figured it was time for a break. And just as I was getting back to our station I heard distinctly angry hooting – once you’ve lived around major roads in the capital, you can tell which those are. I looked up in time to see a mini-bus and what looked like a salon car racing side by side and rather speedily towards a crush. Then it happened. The rammed into each other and there was a huge BOOM and glass crashing. A few of us went to check on our own volunteers and thankfully nobody was hurt from either of the vehicles. Yet the angry hooting went on. It sounded something like this: Yeah, yeah, yeah, nobody died so let’s move on, shall we?
I’m one of those people who would never cross the road if I saw a truck or bus approaching unless it was ridiculously far off. But I have seen dare-devils get cursed at, hooted down and almost run over. Sometimes the fault is theirs, but others not so much. I already think that there are very few good drivers left in this country. And the way things are going, the worst are yet to learn how to drive.
Whether it is in private or public vehicles, there is almost always a tone expressing impatience, rage, malice or total disregard for whoever is driving next to , behind or in front of you. With the matatus, women become an easy target for bullying. Motorcycles complain of harassment by other road users all the time, but they form the group that complained about the most – sometimes even more than matatus and the long distance buses known to literally chase down the grim reaper.
I think we Kenyans are needlessly rude and selfish and that we need to get our act together if we’re ever going to drop the road carnage statistics.