By Gab Oguda via FB
It’s okay to introduce new technology to sort out Nairobi’s transport system. Everyone loves new ways to make life easier and it seems the Jubilee government is keen in throwing money to a perennial problem we’ve all been wailing about.
The problem is that they’ve misdiagnosed the real disease. What we have in Nairobi is not a transport problem, it is a leadership problem. We have been having traffic lights in this city for a million years, but you still find motorists being controlled by traffic policemen. If you stand on any street in Nairobi right now, and wait for the lights to go green for you to cross, you will wait till Kingdom come, because vehicles will just be zooming by without a care in the world whether the lights say so, or not.
The reverse is also true. If you are a motorist obeying traffic signs hoping pedestrians will also do their part, you will spend time on the road burning your fuel for nothing as your fellow motorists wrestle with pedestrians on the lights. You flout traffic rules, not because you want to, but because if you don’t you’ll be left embarrasingly behind and if you can’t compete in breaking the rules you’re definitely out of the human race.
We can shutdown all driving schools, even build roads in the sky, but all those efforts will be meaningless if you don’t stand up and be counted. When John Michuki realized there was a problem in the transport sector, he woke up one day went to his nearest Matatu terminus, boarded a Matatu and gave us his gold-standard of public order. He warned all Matatu operators that no Matatu will be allowed on the road without a valid inspection certificate and basic safety equipment. He wore a seat belt, told passengers how he’d want them to be strapped and gave them a lecture on the consequences of not swimming by the rules.
What followed next was a strict crackdown on rule-breakers. Matatu operators protested but John Michuki told them to go hug a cactus for all he cared but that if they were still interested in being in the Matatu business, they were required to abide by the rules, or get out of the highway. Numbers don’t lie, those rogue operators slowly got back into line and started doing what is right. Kenyans prayed for John Michuki’s long life, the Matatu nuisance was now a thing of the past.
That’s the thing.
Money alone won’t solve our transport problem. You can even have cable cars in this city but if the leadership of this country still operate like tribal warlords only beholden to those who funded their campaigns, those cable cars will be grounded even before they begin lighting up.
We have cameras at 100 metre intervals in every road in Nairobi. We are told those cameras are operated from a central command centre in Jogoo House A, and that any crime that happens on our roads will never go unpunished. A total of 17 billion shillings went towards erecting those supposed crime-busters. It was the end of thuggery in this city.
But they did not prevent gunmen from waylaying Kabete MP, John Muchai, right here in the city and and using his car as target practice. The same fate befell Jacob Juma. We all watched some rogue driver mow down opposition protestors at full speed, right here in the city. Cops have shot protestors at close range as the cameras blinked, some Administration Police vehicle even swept a motorbike rider at full speed, here in the city. MPESA shops get raided every week right under those cameras’ noses.
None of the culprits mentioned above have been convicted. We now know, as the world also knows, that you can get away with murder in this country because those who matter don’t do their work, and those who do their work don’t matter.
What no one will tell you is that this country is operating on autopilot. The goverment is the only vessel that leaks from the top.