By Peter Wanyonyi
You would not want to be caught up in Nairobi traffic when a dignitary foreign or local, real or imagined is visiting. As in most African republics, we believe that the size of the VIP’s motorcade just like the size, apparently, of his potbelly denotes his importance. And so government functionaries try to put on the biggest motorcades bigger, at least, than those of their political rivals. The result is chaos in Nairobi.
Long before a serious dignitary the president, say gets ready to travel, police close down virtually all roads in the city.
Ordinarily, Nairobi is gridlocked to standstill and such a lockdown just makes matters worse. For a country in which the capital city is the headquarters of every single government department, a lockdown of even minutes is simply not acceptable. But the lockdown is just the beginning.
Government bullies run around the place rudely shoving motorists out of the way so the dignitary can have clean, open roads to enjoy his taxpayer-funded limousines. Can’t have a VIP waiting at a roundabout like a kawaida mwananchi, can we?
In Russia, they have special lanes on Moscow’s roads, lanes reserved for VIPs. No one else is allowed to step on those lanes, guaranteeing political royalty of Vladimir Putin’s government getting where they are going without undergoing the indignities of traffic jams. But Kenya doesn’t have the money to build VIP lanes, so we simply lock down the entire city.
Maybe the government should make more use of helicopters. The President and his ministers need to desist from shutting down Nairobi and other cities with their extravagant motorcades, and should instead establish a VIP helicopter unit, so they can fly around Nairobi in a hurry and leave us all in our grounded peace!