Saturday, June 26, 2010

Pimp my ride

The other day while whizzing down a highway in Nairobi in a battered health and safety risk matatu, the wheel fell off. I was seated in the front beside the driver and noticed some confusion amoungst passengers in the back. As I turned around, the matatu had fallen sideways as we skided along the highway on three wheels! I jumped out with the other passengers when we screeched to a halt. My immediate reaction was laughter at the sight of the missing wheel- the entire thing had flown off while we were driving.

Noone was injured. I took a photo of the scene and exchanged laughs with the other passengers.I am getting very laid back about these type of matatu situations since that same week, the door of another matatu had fallen off.I could have been more alarmed but since none of the other passengers appeared concerned, I also moved away from out battered three wheeled matatu and hailed the next one, hoping that this time all vehicle parts would remain intact for the duration of my short journey.

No-one seems to complain about the state of the unroad-worthy vehicles. People complain all the time about the crazy erratic driving skills of the matatu drivers but not about the state of the vehicles. Road accidents are reaching alarming rates yet there is no monitoring of these battered machines or the driving skills of road users.

Imagine the worst Hiace van, ceilings lined with second hand carpet, dodgy doors that don't shut, blaring music at 120 decibles, a tout extracting shillings from 20customers who are squashed in 12 seats (they have no half seat rates despite sharing a seat with up to 3 people). The ceilings are so low that even I, at 5 foot 3bang my head everytime I attempt to 'alight'.

The police continue to extract bribes but noone insists on updating the matatus to a reasonable state of safety. Seat belts alone would be a good idea, let alone operational doors and wheels

Later that same day, I was invited to the polo club in Ngong road to go horse riding with a friend. I must be the only person in Kenya to arrive at a polo club in a matatu.One other member flies to the club by helicopter, a relation of ex- President Moi. I arrive in style in a battered matatu, four wheels this time,dusting the flies from my face and the red Africa soil from my shoes

That is the confusing contradiction of this great place.One minute you are riding down the highway in a three wheeled matatu complaining about Mzungu prices and the next minute you are riding a horse in an elite polo club.Kenya is certainly confusing and unpredictable but I am addicted to the highs and lows. It's certainly never boring and keeps you on your toes!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Is sexual harassment to blame for crashes? Daily Nation, Kenya

I came across this hilarious article in the Daily nation last week. Only thing is, it wasn't meant to be funny. It goes like this....

26,662; the number of people killed in road accidents in Kenya last year
Female passengers who caress boda riders blamed for rise in accident

According to one chief in Meru, the problem is not Chinese made motorbikes or their riders. The chief, who was addressing a public gathering last week, said the cause of motorbike accidents is...female passengers.

"Women passengers caress the riders, who are young men with hot blood. This is what leads to accidents", he declared

Motorbike manufacturers should now consider changing the design of their models. For instance, they can put the luggage carrier between the rider's seat and the passenger's. For extra caution, they can convert it into a cage or plastic box. This will ensure that there is a reasonable distance between the passengers and hot-blooded riders. Another option would be to have handle-bars between the two. This would require passengers to hold the handle- bars rather than virile riders. That way, contact would be reduced and, one hopes, so would accidents

Ingenious piece of critical thinking and deduction..
Kenyan women are to blame for the rise in motorbike accidents rather than the drivers who don't know how to drive

Watch out for these futuristic boda boda models on the market and
take care girls,
try not to caress your hot-booded boda boda driver, however tempting it may be