BY SARAH WAMBUI
I am buying myself a second hand Vitz; I’m not sure about the color but I’m thinking green. From my window-shopping experiences, I have discovered that I need between Sh150,000 and Sh300,000 for this venture. That\’s not too expensive a price to pay for my sanity, right?
Because I can no longer take the cat and mouse games matatu drivers play with the boys in blue that always leave me a couple of kilometers away from my destination. And a Vitz comfortably fits within my budget anyway.
Whether this is a viable investment or not, is not my number one priority. At the moment all that matters is that I get to work on time, smelling fresh and looking upbeat; not tired and beat or in some instances having to call our crimes reporter to bail me out.
On Monday I literally ‘dropped off’ a moving matatu. I still don’t know how I pulled it off without breaking a bone. My feet were wobbly when I landed- probably out of anxiety. And I know I can’t take such a risk again.
On that particular day, there were so many cops on the road and our driver tried his best to elude them but he just couldn’t. They cornered us somewhere on River road; with me and the other commuters inside.
I knew that by the time the matatu came to a stop, the cops would have reached us and locked us inside leaving us with no way out. I had to act fast. I couldn’t get arrested for seat belts again, so I bolted. And thus began the long walk (with heels on) from downtown Nairobi to Lonhro House. I wasn’t angry at anyone or the situation but I made myself a promise– no more hair raising stunts.
And because I can neither stop cops from conducting their ‘operations’, buy every matatu on my route seat belts nor carry my own stick-on belt, I am pretty much left with no option.
Then again these ‘operations’ are becoming one too many and with each I risk finding myself on Ngong road behind the doors of the Nairobi Area Traffic Police Headquarters through no fault of my own- because it doesn’t matter how much one tries to abide by the ‘Michuki’ rules.
My research shows that only one or two seats in every route 58 matatu have seatbelts and mostly they are not clean. They are the kind of belts you have to pick up from the floor, dust off the dirt if you can and buckle up.
Besides that chances of landing the belted seats are almost nil and waiting for another matatu is really not an option.
So for most commuters like myself, we have no choice but to take the ‘beltless’ matatus and risk getting arrested.
But I am done; I can’t take it anymore.
The anxiety I get every time we are about to get to town; looking out for the police and crossing my fingers that they don’t stop our matatu has reached unbearable levels.
I know it will take a while before the country’s transport system is effectively reformed and I also know that it will time take before my ‘Vitz-buying’ plans materialize, so for now the Capital News Crimes Reporter and I will have to be the best of friends.