NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – An author once said, if everything comes your way, you are in the wrong lane.
But this is not how drivers who transport khat see it.
For them, the precedence is that khat – commonly known as miraa – is delivered from Maua to Nairobi within the shortest time possible to preserve its freshness and value.
“Miraa cars should not stop anywhere not even for five minutes, miraa is perishable. The way it is packaged, at the bottom it can go bad because of the heat. That’s why we drive fast so that it doesn’t also dry,” a miraa driver (Naftali) explained to Capital FM News.
Though it is well known that miraa drivers flout crucial traffic rules and ignore the common sense of decency on the roads, not many miraa users are willing to pull down their tower of cards to lop their tall poppies.
Instead, they discuss speeding by miraa drivers as if in admiration of the neck breaking speeds that leave drivers using the Maua-Meru-Nanyuki-Nairobi Roads shaken almost to death.
It’s about 7pm and it’s a miraa pick hour. Maua Town is a beehive of activity as miraa dealers flock pick and drop points near the market.
Activities in the small town make it look like the start of a working day.
Motorbikes, saloon cars and pick-up trucks throng from all directions to drop or pick miraa.
Pedestrians – while some are carrying big loads of miraa on their heads, and others are clutching on them against their chest crisscross the road recklessly.
It is up to the drivers to wait for them to clear the road, because if you hit one, it will be another near-death experience of a charged mob dealing with you for killing a miraa businessman.
It usually takes about four to five hours for most motorists driving from Maua to Nairobi, but not for miraa drivers.
“It takes me four hours to get to Nairobi from Maua,” Naftali (not his real name) said.
Capital FM News attempted to follow several cars from Maua Town.
Though we were driving at 150KMPH, the cars we attempted to follow got out of our reach within minutes.
Miraa dealers are very cautious and very suspicious whenever they spot strangers around. Their suspicion stems from Britain’s and Netherlands’ move to ban miraa in their countries.
After negotiations sometimes accompanied by insults, they agreed to be interviewed but conditionally.
The crowd that kept shouting in Kimeru, warned all interviewees against spoiling the miraa business any further.