Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero has unsuccessfully devised several ways to manage traffic in the city, including the phasing out of roundabouts using drums. That these drums cost Sh4 million is a story for another day. But even as the Nairobi City County ponders ways of easing traffic snarl-ups, the ever innovative Nairobians always have something to while time away time in traffic.
These ten things have become part of our traffic-halted lives:
1. Losing kilos
Many middle-class Nairobians complain about weight problems. But the constant jams can be a short cut to shedding those excess kilos, like Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero discovered the other day when he starred in a well-choreographed ‘trek’ to Villa Rosa Kempinski.
2. Fish out that phone
In a matatu many passengers, both young and old, have their eyes fixed on their phones. Facebooking, Tweeting and WhatsApping are the popular pastimes whenever we find ourselves in grinding jams.
3. Tujuane time
For the young and those yet to be onekaniwad, the traffic jam is always a welcome opportunity to ‘tune’ that kabinti sitting next to you. Many are the Nairobi families that have matatus and traffic jams to thank for bringing them together as husbands and wives.
4. When you got to go…
When it strikes, the call of nature does not respect the surroundings, which explains why many drivers have been spotted peeing on tires or at the back of their vehicles while in traffic.
5. Soko mjinga
While motorists and their passengers are cursing the traffic jams, hawkers are praying for it to go on forever. For this is the only time they can do roaring biz without the fear of kanjo askaris landing their rungus on their heads. Still, most motorists buy their morning papers in traffic.
6. Catching up with favourite series
If you have a smartphone, you’ve probably found yourself on YouTube or actually watching a movie on your phone. With cars moving at a speed of an inch per hour, you can watch an entire series in traffic!
7. Shhh…students studying
Since everybody seems to be going for evening classes nowadays, exam times become quite apparent on our roads. From matatus to private vehicles, those who’ve not been able to study for exams take advantage of the snail’s pace to cram in as much as possible on their way to exams.
8. Breakfast with a view
It’s interesting how Nairobians are forced to wake up at the crack of dawn to beat traffic, but still end up stuck in it anyway. Waking up with the chickens means there is no time for breakfast in the house, but you can enjoy one on the road with a view…of stalled cars and exhaust fumes!
9. Roadside delivery
When baby says it wants to say hello to the world, it chooses the unlikeliest of moments. Sometimes, that call comes in traffic. It is every man’s nightmare to hear wifey say, ‘baby I’ve broke my water,’ when you are just about to cut out some annoying, overlapping Probox. These kids should get names like Traffic Jam Wanja to honour their birthdays.
10. Missed opportunities
Bad things also happen in traffic. People have lost dates, possibly wives and jobs. Ken, a hustler from Kayole, says he once lost a marketing job because of heavy traffic: “I got late twice and my Asian boss couldn’t take it any more.” And he is not alone. Many more have lost dates, potential spouses and business deals, thanks to the traffic jam nightmare!