In Kenya, there are a few reasons for one to be overcharged when using the public service vehicles. Other than the widely accepted notion that you should pay more during peak hours, you will pay extra because it is raining, because it looks like it will rain, because it rained the previous day and because convection leads to rainfall. You will pay extra because the vehicle is new and everyone wants to board it and because the vehicle is too old and no one wants to board it. A certain tycoon still expects high profits from his rickety automobile.
Sometimes it’s not even about supply and demand. It is about the tout and his gift of gauging passengers. He will ‘forget’ to give change because a passenger looks soft, he will hike the price just because he feels like and so much more. Most times, overpricing comes with a bonus package of getting stuck in traffic. So instead of being overcharged to go to a place you can walk to then get stuck in traffic facing the opposite direction from where you are headed, many Kenyans chose to walk.
In partial fulfillment of the e.t.c.s of my B.Sc, I am required to go for industrial attachment. And what better place to get a feel of the industry than the headquarters of Global warming. You know? That place with two suns and a whole lot of fumes? Yes, that area. Of course the first few days I took a mat. I chill for the mat to fill for about 15 minutes, then get stuck in traffic for like 30 minutes and before you get say that’s not so long the distance is only about a kilometer if I walk. Fare should be 20/= or 30/= but you’ll be charged 40-80/= depending on the mood the tout is in that morning.
As I sat in traffic looked at those walking along the road. Some in groups and others alone. Some in suits and others in overalls. Some buried deep in thought and others with expressionless faces. Those that have seen it all and will be OK no matter what the day brings forth. Bad or good they will take it head on.
All have dusty shoes which do no justice to their outfits but there are bigger things to worry about than dusty shoes at 7 am. I thought these people considered fitness vital in life. I thought they all wanted to get their bodies toned. A few mornings with the money hungry touts and I was walking to work also. Albeit halfway.
Every morning when I get to the road there are is a trail of people ahead of me, as far as my eyes can see. There are even more behind me. We are all headed to the same direction. We are all looking for a little silver to sustain our lives. It reminds me of the children of Israel coming out of slavery. Wandering for years in the desert with the dream of getting to the promised land.
I am part of this walking nation. I will walk to work. Every day six days a week. I’ll probably have a walking buddy. Maybe I’ll make a new friend. As we walk we will pass by a man preaching under a billboard. For a minute he will be in earshot and I will get a statement or two of his preaching. ‘Give thanks to the Lord,’ he will be saying. I will smile and give thanks for this car in this vehicle assembly that I will afford one day. We will walk together until one of us is swallowed by an industry, not to be vomited until late evening. Maybe we will meet again. Maybe we won’t. I will walk to work. And I’ll enjoy it. This is my desert. Green Canaan is coming.