On his way home from work last week on Tuesday, David* took a matatu, as he does every day. David* likes to sit next to the driver and will often wait until he gets space there, no matter the traffic situation. During his journey home, he noticed that the driver was constantly overlapping and was on the phone texting and calling. At one point, they nearly hit a pedestrian. Deciding that he had had enough, David* told the matatu driver to stop using his phone and concentrate on the driving. The matatu driver gave him a stern look and told him angrily ‘Wewe kama hutaki kutumia matatu si ununue gari yako?’. Everyone else in the Matatu either laughed at that statement or just kept quiet. David got to his stage and alighted safely. He did not feel bad for letting the driver know that what he had done was wrong.
Many Nairobi residents and indeed Kenyans from many parts of the country use public transport to reach to their destinations every day. David’s scenario is only a tip of the iceberg of what happens on our roads on a day to day basis. Commuters stare and tag along when they witness incidences of reckless and dangerous driving. Many people would rather take a Matatu as opposed to hitching a ride from a good Samaritan familiar to them. The reason for this is that with the huge traffic jams the Matatu driver will probably overlap all the way and get to the destination faster. It is the wrong attitude. It is appalling to notice that the trend has been passed on to personal vehicle drivers who now also overlap with utter recklessness.
In the year 2014, according to data from NTSA, 2,641 people died from road accidents. We all certainly probably have seen someone post an RIP message on Facebook or other social media pages in the last one year. Messages about relatives, friends or even acquaintances that have lost their lives as a result of road accidents. These are very worrying statistic by any standards. Statistics that we could do so much to abet. We have a responsibility to preserve lives.
The recently launched campaign by NTSA called ‘Zusha’ is a move aimed at ensuring that we lose less lives on our roads. Loosely translated, the word means ‘Speak out against’. We need to speak out against the drivers who drive so recklessly on our roads. We need to speak out against rogue driving. With the backing of the traffic police department, we could make good progress in ensuring sanity on our roads.
Let us not be cowed into the cocoons of accepting it when drivers overlap, overcharge and even overload their vehicles. Speak out today. Zusha!
*Name has been altered to preserve real identity.