By Linnet Kalenda – KENYA*
“Niko karibu kufika” (Am almost there), or “nimekwama kwa jam “(Am stuck on traffic jam) is an anthem you will hear in Nairobi buses as the rough matatu drivers try to maneuver and find there way out the traffic jam.
A distance of 13Kilometers for instance from Umoja estate to Nairobi CBD will take you more than three hours if you are not careful. If you are working outside CBD, say in upperhill or Westands and you stay in Umoja then you have to leave the house few minutes past 5am to be sure to arrive at work by 8 am .A difference of 30Minutes can cost your day. That means you have to wake up as early as 4am to prepare for the day. It becomes even worse when a drop of rain hits the ground .All matatu stages will be literally flooded with people. Being lucky to find a bus will take you sometime, and when you finally get one, you better find a comfortable position and sleep because you will not arrive any time soon.
Come to evening, you will leave work at 5pm,arrive in CBD at 6PM,join the long queues and board a matatu at 6.30 if it doesn’t rain, or even past 8PM if it rains. You will keep hoping that you don’t get stuck, but sorry, that wont come to pass
This situation is not friendly and its becoming more worrying as there continues to be an influx of people to town to look for jobs and many still acquiring more vehicles. Matatu drivers are forced to be rough and careless on the road in a bid to struggle and pave their way, look for alternative poor maintained and insecure routes just to make sure you arrive in time and they make business.
Despite the efforts of the government to construct a superhighway in Thika, and an outering road ,there is still a lot to be done to salvage this horrifying situation. The whole menace means low productivity at workplaces because people are tired and stressed at work. Bus fare also has to be hiked to meet the demands of business and most times passengers are vulnerable to exploitation. One has to literally set an alarm to wake them up in the morning immediately they arrive home in late hours, they have to spend very little time with their families and have no time left for extra activities. Most employers will not compromise on lateness and underperformance which can make one easily depressed.
Managing this problem will solve many issues among them insecurity, workplace satisfaction and productivity, improved economy due to less time wastage, and general health conditions related to lack of time for exercise, stress and depression. I hope my city will no longer be the fever many people in my country cant imagine to have. Am looking forward to the day I will leave home at 7 am and get to work at 8 am.
Linnet Kalenda – Director of the African Forum for Investment & Opportunities – AFIO / ISTICHARIA-AFRICA