Ngugi: My lovely drive to Eldoret, the city of champions

By Muiru Ngugi On Sun, 3 Nov, 2019 17:12 | 2 mins read
Editor's Review
    • In Naivasha, and at the Sachangwan-Molo section, everyone, excepting the nutcases and totally clueless, is at their best behaviour. In these sections, even a Tuk-Tuk can overtake a Probox or a Subaru driver.
    • At Kinungi, the speed limit is 50km/hr, but the sign declaring that limit was evacuated a long time ago.
    • The 11km climb to Mau Summit, Londian and Timboroa and on to Burnt Forest is much safer now, thanks to the on-going separation of lanes with huge concrete blocks.

I drove to Eldoret, the city of champions, the other day.

The traffic between Nairobi and Nakuru snails on the A104 highway, with entrepreneurial Kenyan drivers tailgating and overlapping and breaking all the other known and unknown rules in the highway code, and outnumbered policemen and women doing their best to enforce the law and to instantly informally tax law breaking motorists.

In Naivasha, and at the Sachangwan-Molo section, everyone, excepting the nutcases and totally clueless, is at their best behaviour. In these sections, even a Tuk-Tuk can overtake a Probox or a Subaru driver.

These sections are said to be where speed cameras have been mounted. These gadgets instill the fear of God into drivers of all backgrounds.

It is more likely, however, that the police monitor speed using unmarked cars. The difference, however, is the same — every driver gets serious chills, for the fines here are real, and the time wasted at the police station or at the courts is capable of disorganizing your schedule for a whole month.

The Naivasha police are particularly notorious for their zealous arrests, even funeral and wedding processions are said not to be spared if they are caught speeding.

Curiously, there are no signs to warn you. At Kinungi, the speed limit is 50km/hr, but the sign declaring that limit was evacuated a long time ago.

Thieves from your favourite business community have ensured that no road sign mounted on any kind of metal remains on the roadside for long.

At the Gilgil weighbridge, the hawkers have been cleared. Not a single one of the hawkers who used to sell yogurt and oranges and South African apples can be seen.

I found myself thinking about the families of these hawkers and how they are putting food on the table, but I must admit that the place looks much better without them.

What is certain is that the government is likely to face a lot of criticism about the removal of these people from the weighbridge, where they were providing a vital (food) service to truck drivers stuck there.

The government is likely to be seen as being against the informal sector although it is clear that you don’t find hawkers on major highways in the developed world.

The 11km climb to Mau Summit, Londian and Timboroa and on to Burnt Forest is much safer now, thanks to the on-going separation of lanes with huge concrete blocks. I am sure this has resulted in a noticeable decrease in the number of road accidents that used to be so common in that section of the road.

It is a pity that the road zigzags so much as it goes up, preventing you from enjoying the beauty of this place.

If the Kenya Forest Service was led by entrepreneurial leaders, it would construct a rest stop facility with good clean toilets and hot tea in the middle of its expansive forests and, at the bare minimum, offer ngumu mandazis.

But I know, they will argue that selling tea is not their core business. And that is how we often miss great opportunities — by rationalizing ourselves into complete lethargy.