I watched last week as matatus broke almost every
law and regulation regarding the use of the road in full view of
three police patrols that had a combination of both traffic
police and armed normal police,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
to be outdone, regular motorists and some other heavy goods vehicles
The scene I am about
to describe happened on a traditional single lane road somewhere
in Nairobi and was typical of what can happen in any similar
road anywhere in the country.
It was on Thursday
last week and an accident happened on one of the single lane
roads leading into the city.
Over the last few
weeks, the highways authority had been busy repairing the road
shoulders and drainage and restoring some of the non-paved
provisions for non-motorised traffic adjacent to this road.
As it was peak
traffic time, the tail back of vehicles grew rapidly in both
directions away from eth scene of the accident.
For the first ten
minutes or so traffic stayed in one lane leaving the lane for
traffic going in the opposite free.
The boys in blue
arrive at the accident scene fairly quickly and took charge of
organising the resolution of the accident issues whilst some of
them directed traffic through the gap left in the road.
There were cops also
stationed at various junctions along this feeder road whose job
was to control traffic leaving and joining the feeder road.
This was a normal
activity and helped to ease traffic flow on this busy feeder
As a result of the
accident, the traffic tail back continued to grow and the cops
at the accident scene did their best to keep traffic flowing.
They would release
thirty cars from one direction to go through the gap at the
traffic accident scene and then do the same for the cars going
in the opposite direction.
noticing the gap in traffic, decided to do what they know best
and started overlapping. The ones that started this activity
were the drivers at the very back of the queue.
They would drive at
high speed on the lane meant for traffic coming from the
opposite direction and when they came head to head with the
traffic that owned the lane, the drivers would at first try to
get back into the right where they perceived gaps in between the
When such gaps
vanished, as other drivers quickly closed the space, the matatu
drivers decided to divert to the newly repaired shoul-ders or
the provisions that were made for non-motorised traffic.
This then became the
norm as the matatu drivers, followed by drivers in normal cars
and then heavy com-mercial vehicles decided to move across to
the shoulders in order to progress forward.
Whilst this was
going on, other drivers decided to get onto the shoulders
adjacent to the lane in which they were stopped and make their
forward progress using this lane.
There were then
three lanes of traffic going in one direction and one in the
opposite direction. On the opposite side of the accident the
same situation also obtained.
This all went on
whilst the cops at the various junctions completely ignored
their duty to ensure that drivers on the road stuck to the
Single, double and
triple overlapping was happening right before their eyes and
instead of reprimanding the drivers who were flouting the
traffic regulations, they instead changed to also control the
intersections where the four lanes of traffic converged.
This put pressure on
the single lane going in the opposite direction to the three
lanes of overlapping traffic.
Drivers who were in
the single lane had all sorts of problems as they were blinded
by the dust raised by the vehicles using the shoulder whilst
driving in the opposite direction.
They came face to
face with drivers who decided to also take over their lane and
approached with blazing or flashing headlights – especially
They boys in blue
seemed to condone the blatant disregard of traffic rules and the
They simply waved
vehicles on when they had to sort snarl ups caused by the
by this “nod” from the traffic cops continued to drive like
matadors along the wrong lanes and put the lives of pedestrians,
boda boda and bicycle riders in danger.
The dust raised by
driving on the recently refurbished shoulders added to the
danger for these other road users.
It is this behaviour
by the boys in blue that thoroughly frustrates law abiding
citizens and the patient drivers.
As they try to obey
the law, those that brazenly flout the laws are assisted by the
one of the law abiding drivers get tempted to also flout the
laws they get caught and reprimanded.
The cops seem to
recognise the habitual law breakers and let them get away with
it and also recognise the novices at law breaking and punish
starkly predicted: there may come a time when disheartened
wananchi simply take the law into their own hands due to the
complicity of the cops in encouraging traffic indiscipline.
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