, NAIROBI, October 27 – Is Sh140 peanuts, really? Is it just me or was that a very callous statement for the Deputy Prime Minister to make on Monday.
Forgive the venom that may underline this prose but just this morning, the beautiful 27th day of October 2008, I drove around for about an hour circling the streets near my office block looking for parking.
As I gazed tepidly at my fuel gauge and watched each and every parking on my left, right and beyond carefully (all at the same time), my mind was resigning to the fact that this is one of those days when fortune has already been taken – and fate has forced me to fish an extra Sh50 for the parking ‘man’ who will come to my rescue. (No offence God, I know you usually help me here…).
Anyway, allow me to voice my frustration. A parking ticket is Sh70. I parted with Sh120 today after bargaining down from Sh170 with a parking ‘man’ who said that a Sh50 tip is not enough for his lunch. I shrugged and told him in Swahili “hiyo itakuwa ngumu”, translated in English it would mean “over my dead body”.
I have stretched as much cash, opportunity and blessing as I can to live in a margin of comfort, which is my right as a working citizen, and the ‘peanuts’ I may have to pay will reduce my comfort in the long run, increasing my stress levels unnecessarily at the same time. “Hiyo si itakuwa ngumu?”
Ok, maybe Musalia Mudavadi did not say peanuts, exactly, but these were his words: “A car being parked, you’re not targeting the ordinary man. You’re targeting somebody with means, because somebody who has a car which they can park in the town is not a poor man. So Sh70 over and above what they have been paying is a very small (pause) figure”.
For those who weren’t very good at mathematics, let’s do this together. Sh140 multiplied by 30 minus four Sundays is equals to Sh3,640. For argument’s sake, since the parking ‘men’ have hidden these coveted spots from the ordinary eye, they might also add Sh10 to their standard tipping rate of Sh50. This is equivalent to about Sh200 on a daily and Sh5,200 on a monthly.
In some rights, a car is very much like a mobile phone. In this day and age when everything is time bound, or the shortest time for services delivered is equivalent to the shorter edge you have on your ‘business rival’ – having a car adds your margins. It is an asset and I sambaza it to close friends and family when I can. But they have to fuel it and look for a Sh50 to secure a hidden spot, etc.
Man cannot live on a salary alone. And I am one of those people whose car has helped get to a production studio in time for a paycheck that will make me happy when I look at the interior of my house. I can think about the exterior later in life when I move to the next comfort level, after a lot of hard work mind you and not just the passage of time.
All this arguing has left me tired. This is what I propose; that Sh140, if they must, be accompanied by a guaranteed parking spot where my car will not be touched as I am away from it since not only the parking attendants but the parking ‘men’ will be eliminated and they will have to look for an alternative means of livelihood, which I hope has nothing to do with breaking into my vehicle that has just enough fuel in it to ferry me from home to the designated spot and once in a good blue moon to the production studio. Not so?