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Driver’s Worst Nightmare - Parking In Restricted
Space With A Queue Of Hooting ‘Know Nothings’

Coastweek -- Parking a vehicle is supposed to be one of the easier exercises that a driver has to carry out, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

However, there are many drivers for whom parking is still a daunting task.

Kachumbari was travelling out of the country recently and had to catch his flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (commonly abbreviated JKIA) in Nairobi.

He had decided to make use of the trip to arrive in Nairobi earlier in the day and do some business before catching an evening flight to Europe.

A friend of his was arriving back from a business trip to Argentina and so had asked whether Kachumbari could take a car from his house and drop it at the airport for him to use to travel to his house on arrival at JKIA.

Kachumbari agreed to do so.

He had the use of the car for the day to run his errands and then head to the airport.

His last activity involved parking in a silo parking of an office complex somewhere off Riverside Drive in Nairobi.

When he completed his activity, he took the lift back to the top level of the silo, got into his car and set out to extract himself from the silo and into the heavy early evening traffic.

As he was descending from the eleventh floor in the parking silo, which is where his host had reserved parking for him, he had to stop after only descending two levels as there was a driver who was reversing into a parking space.

The rule in the office complex was that all vehicles parked anywhere, including in the silo parking, had to park facing outwards so that in the event of emergency evacuation, all cars would be able to leave quickly without having to make too many manoeuvres.

He had to stop to the let the driver get into the parking as the space allowed for driving up and down the silo parking was quite narrow.

Two Hummers driving in opposite directions in the parking silo would have been unable to pass each other.

The driver started to reverse her large expensive saloon car into her allocated parking and after reversing for two metres moved forward again as she appeared to conclude that she had got too close to the other vehicles already parked yet to Kachumbari she had plenty of space to reverse a bit more.

She then inched forward for a fraction of a metre and then stopped and turned the wheel to an opposite lock.

She reversed for a very short distance and then stopped, turned the steering to the opposite lock and then inched forwards again.

Each manoeuvre back and forth was barely more than a metre in length.

The space between the two cars that she was trying to park in between, which it later turned out to be her allocated parking, had been narrowed because one of the adjacent cars had parked very close to the separating line.

These to and fro movements by the lady trying to park went on several minutes and cars began to gather either side of the activity.

The poor driver started to panic as some of the drivers who were now backed up on other floors began to hoot and the construction of the parking silo was such that any noise was amplified as it bounced off the walls enclosing the silo parking.

The back and forth cadence got shorter and the parking effort became more futile as the pressure mounted on the driver.

After a while one of the drivers decided to come out of their vehicle and offer to help the lady park the car.

One could almost hear a sigh of relief as she got out of the car and allowed this good Samaritan to help park her vehicle.

Big mistake.

The fellow got into the car and realised that there was a reversing camera in the car so one could see what was going on at the back of the vehicle.

He had never used this aid before and decided would do so now.

He was also in a hurry to park the vehicle so that he could unlock the traffic jam that had now developed in the silo parking.

Some other drivers had got out of their vehicles to come and help and stood by and some of the security staff had also come to the spot because of the incessant hooting that had been taking place and continued to happen.

He reversed once getting much closer to other parked cars than the vehicle’s owner had done and then moved forward and again got much closer to the vehicles ahead of the car he was trying to park.

As he reversed a second time, his driving foot shot down the accelerator as a reaction to his hurriedly leaning further sideways to better see behind despite the fact that there was a reversing screen on the dashboard.

Before he could move his foot to step on the brakes, he had rammed hard into one of the vehicles he was trying to park in between and ricocheted onto the next vehicle.

The alarms on these parked vehicles went off and this triggered a couple of other alarms in adjacent cars.

One has to picture a situation where there are cars hooting a floor below and above where this incident was taking place and then add now the alarms that had been set off.

This added to the mayhem that was royally brewing in the parking silo.

The good Samaritan got out to examine the damage and the lady owner of the vehicle now became extremely angry and railed on the rescuing driver.

Other drivers also got out and started abusing the fellow – whose only mistake was that he tried to save a situation but botched it, further due to his ineptitude.

It took the security personnel and one older sober seeming fellow several minutes to stop the stupidity that was brewing and put some order to what was rapidly turning into large event precipitated by a lady trying to park her car at a peak time in a parking silo.

They saw that there was a reasonable gap that had opened out in the access lanes which cars could manoeuvre through.

They also decided that they would have to call all the parties to the incident in order to agree on how to handle the accident that had happened.

The security personnel split themselves. Some started directing traffic through the gap whilst others got the owners of the two other vehicles which had been hit by the car that was being parked. They also were able to get cops from a police station a few minutes away through their rapid response system.

All in all, it took Kachumbari some thirty minutes from the time he entered his vehicle to exit from the parking silo to the time he was able to leave the office complex and join the mad Nairobi traffic.

This cut into his time seriously but he had – as he usually does – allowed for the extra one hour to get to the airport and was still able to get there on time, park the car in the parking silo at the airport and make his check in after leaving the car keys with a designated person in one of the outlets at the airport.

This parking silo incident illustrates how simple things can get completely out of hand through a series of errors forced by people genuinely trying to help out in a situation.

The key lesson is that even in the middle of a seemingly major crisis, some calm is required to ensure that a bad situation is not made worse through trying to hurry things to what appears to be an obvious conclusion.

As Kachumbari says, slow and steady wins the race!

 

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