In recent days, there has been a hue and cry over heavy traffic snarl-up along the Nairobi-Mombasa road owing to the ongoing construction of the Nairobi Express route.
Motorists have time to time spent hours stuck in the route with some forced to spend the night manoeuvring the heavy traffic only to arrive at their destinations the following morning.
So bad is the situation that ambulance cars with loud sirens are caught up in the snarl-up and are forced to snake to their destinations.
On August 26, I happened to have been caught up in the snarl-up. The journey from Nairobi to Kitengela took eight hours amid many struggles, full light injustice to naked eyes, hooting, stalled vehicles and confusion.
What caught my eyes is a youthful man hawking fuel. A vehicle ahead of me had stalled and had its hazards blinking. A guy on a motorbike came manoeuvring the traffic towards the opposite direction and stopped beside the vehicle shouting ‘mafuta mafuta’. This was around Cabanas area, and it’s just past midnight.
It is when I realized that the vehicle had stalled due to fuel and indeed the man was selling petrol fuel. The lady driver who had lowered her window replied to the man ‘Yes mafuta’.
The man, dressed in dark blue dust apron and green reflector delightedly walked towards the lady and, shortly, the car fuel tank was opened and he fueled the car.
It is when it dawned on me that the two crates the man was carrying is packed with litres of petrol packed in one, two and five-litre water bottles and he was targeting potential customers whose journey have been cut short due to lack of fuel.
I opted to also have my hazards on just in case the traffic opens up and start moving so as to engage the man who wore safety boots and a blue facemask.
He approached my open window and we started a conversation. He happily told me he does manual job at construction sites during the day and does bodaboda job in the evening in an effort to meet his daily needs.
“Hello Madam, I am selling petrol at ksh400 per litre. How many litres do you want?” he asked.
I asked him that I was just happy that he thought of a way of reducing traffic snarl-up by helping those who are stranded.
“I live at a Mlolongo slum and at around 9 pm my customer called me requesting that I go pick some home essentials and take them to his home in Sabaki area since traffic was forming up. He was around JKIA area then. On my way, I observed that there were so many vehicles stuck and the problem was common, lack of fuel. I thought that was a business opportunity and I developed a quick idea, “he narrated.
I rushed to a place where they sell plastic containers and bought plastic bottles. I then borrowed two crates from a neighbour who owns a shop.
I went to one of the Petrol stations and asked an attendant to sell me petrol fuel. He refused and I went ahead to seek help of being sold fuel from one of the managers. I had to explain to him that I intended to sell the fuel at the traffic snarl-up. He agreed but warned that I should not disclose where I bought,” he added.
He is interrupted by a man walking and noticed his packed bodaboda and he is looking for fuel.
He walks away saying that I am wasting his time for business just asking questions and I have not even introduced myself.
I alight and ask my co-driver to take charge and I follow him. Our conversation ended the moment I introduced myself as a journalist and he angrily told me off that I have intentions to set him against the government to have him arrested.
To avoid a commotion, I got back to my car.