"Our mission is to…Open the hidden perspectives"


Posted by Popular Ombudsman on July 12, 2009

The time had come for me to move house after staying for 12 years at one address. I had just completed building my own house the previous month. If you have ever moved house, then you must be aware of the mandatory visit to Kawangware, Dagoretti Corner, Ukulima Market, Nairobi West, Githurai or any of the tens of centres where trucks of every description are usually parked waiting for customers in need of “transport”. Such trucks do not hide their intentions to provide transport services as they display poorly written bill boards proclaiming “Ask for transport”. Safaricom and Zain mobile phone numbers will usually be displayed somewhere on the bill board too.

One other reason why I needed to move was because a few years earlier, as I drove out of my home, I met two agitated men who animatedly waved me down. I was scared stiff so I refused to stop. My mate insisted that I check and see if they needed help. I stopped some distance away and when they caught up with us, they said that they had just lost their pick-up truck to thugs who had pretended to be customers in need of transport services. They needed a lift to the police station, but I wondered, were they genuine? So over time, I decided that I needed to be out of this unsafe neighbourhood!

I digress. I went to Ungwaro (Kawangware) and got one of these 4 ton Mitsubishi trucks and stood next to it. Presently, a man emerged from somewhere and asked whether I needed any help. I told him that I needed transport services for the next day. He inquired where I needed the items picked and dropped. I told him and we haggled as is usual. After haggling a bit, we agreed and fixed the time.

The next day, my ‘removalist’ arrived a few minutes late and we loaded my household goods into his truck and by 9.30 am we were en route to my new place. Twenty minutes into the trip, midway between Uthiru and Satellite, we encountered one of these ubiquitous traffic policemen who walk around with notebooks and wear bright overcoats. Nowadays they do not even bother to carry the spikes because the operation they carry out only needs a register and a tough talking policeman or woman! A jacket with sufficient pocket space is also mandatory. This particular one had just pulled a ‘matatu’, which was brand new, with everything seemingly spic and span. The policeman pulled us up and instructed our driver to park the truck on the roadside.

Our driver, his conductor and myself were seated in front. I had two friends at the back to take care of my household valuables. The driver made as if to park the truck, suddenly made a complete U-turn and zoomed back the way we had come from at a terrifying speed. I was left speechless! The policeman quickly jumped into the ‘matatu’ and instructed the driver to give chase, the legality or otherwise notwithstanding. At hair raising speed, they tried to overtake our truck and block the way, but the truck driver moved to the right side and blocked the whole road. When the ‘matatu’ driver tried to overtake on the left side of the truck, our driver repeated his maneuver. This went on until we got to Uthiru roundabout. We passed the roundabout like a couple of rockets aiming for mars. The truck driver was flying towards the overpass leading to Upper Kabete Campus. Near Upper Kabete Campus, there is a shopping centre called Ndumbu~ini. The junction into Ndumbu~ini is also a bus stage for ‘matatu’ number 22. As we approached the stage at break-neck speed, I closed my eyes and prayed. I told my God that I was not ready yet and waited for the big bang.
My transporter somehow turned into Ndumbu~ini and raised a cloud of dust as he stormed down the one lane shopping centre. This sent terrified children, women and chickens scurrying in every direction. At this point, my heart was pounding but I found my voice and asked him, “approximately when will this come to an end”?

He told me that the policeman would not dare follow him into Ndumbu~ini. I can confirm here that the policeman did not venture and that my household goods were delivered successfully a few hours later. Between the two, whom could I blame for my predicament? What was I supposed to do?

-Tony Mongare


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