Some three years ago, I was heading to meet a colleague at a nyama choma tavern in Kilimani. When I approached the Kenya National Library Services, traffic was building up but I was in a bit of a rush, so I deftly overlapped.
The motorist ahead of me was also behaving badly so I floored the gas pedal. But before I got to the Nairobi Club, the car in front of me was waved down by a traffic officer. Phew, I thought to myself… by the time he deals with that driver, I will have zoomed past. But to my consternation, the boys in blue were not in short supply.
Another officer flagged me down and directed me to drive to the traffic headquarters. I was quickly booked for the offence and directed to deposit a Sh5,000 bond pending my appearance in court.
In the stuffy room, there was a long queue of matatu personnel waiting to pay their bonds but this time, there was clearly no overlapping.
By the time I was done with the policemen, the nyama choma I was rushing to munch had gone cold and I had lost appetite anyway.
From that day, I made myself a promise. I would ALWAYS follow traffic rules.
It thus infuriates me to see other motorists (especially those in GK and parastatal plates) zealously overlapping in morning traffic. (I unfailingly avoid evening traffic by leaving town late).
One recent weekend, I was waiting for the traffic lights to go green when the motorist behind me literally slumped on his horn. The chap was upset that there were no other cars on the approaching lanes and obviously wanted to know why I had taken the trouble to stop at the red light. I simply ignored the fellow.
This is how appalling etiquette on our roads has become. When you slow down to give way to other motorists, those in tow want to ram your vehicle evidently upset at your civility. Courtesy is not an option for motorists on Kenyan roads.
I lived in London for a while and recall how serious observance of traffic rules was. Public transport only stopped at the bus stop. If the traffic lights turned red, it did not matter if it was 1am… motorists stopped and waited their turn.
As I was writing this on Monday, news filtered to our newsroom that at least 18 people had been killed in an accident on the Nairobi-Nakuru highway. Why do we continue losing innocent lives on our roads? More often than not, it is due to reckless mannerisms.
In cities like London, there are speed cameras at the traffic lights and on the highways to regulate speed (which is why Mr Mwakwere, they do not need speed governors). Electronic devices do the job and you simply get a fee note in your mail.
I want to suggest that the issuance of new driving licences should not be automatic. Let all those who possess one be subjected to fresh tests.
We should introduce a system where violators of traffic rules lose points on their driving licenses and end up facing driving bans if they are regular offenders.
This will act as a deterrent against rogue drivers on our roads.
And, my friend Major General Hussein Ali, what became of Alcoblow?