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What’s driving Kenyans crazy, even as they seek to ride in air?

JKIA-Westlands expressway construction on aerial view showing the old Waiyaki Way and the suspended new road. [File, Standard]

Many Kenyans have been dreaming of a seamless ride in the air.

So when rumours swirled that the said road was open for test-driving, many got ahead of themselves and were ready to jump on the road, though it’s still under construction, to grant them a free pass before the toll stations open!

Thankfully, the notices circulated on social media came late at night, and so most didn’t have a chance to actualise their dream of taking the overpass coursing from Mlolongo to Westlands.

Which is just as well; other folks, perhaps who hadn’t slept a wink, were on the road early, on the Thika Superhighway, driving with a passenger door wide open, with the screeching brakes punctuated by the wails of a woman.

That was Monday or Tuesday morning. I have lost track of time as the parties involved were coming from a night out, or were about to start one. The driver wanted the passenger to stay on. Those details emerged when the young driver appeared before a magistrate’s court to explain his manner of driving.

The man said, calmly, that he had been out with his girlfriend, who is a university student. But because he’s excitable and had been particularly excited to see her overnight, he said he asked her to stay, just a little longer, and leave at his leisure.

For the avoidance of doubt, the girl appeared in court. She nodded in affirmation that indeed she was the damsel in distress and that the said man had not abducted her. Indeed, she was aware abduction is such a big crime and the man in court, truth of God, had not abducted her. He just wanted her to stay on.

It’s not clear if the Probox passenger doors are operable from the driver’s door, the way buses have switches managed from the driver’s side. After all, Probox vehicles have carrying capacity similar to buses.

Anyway, the door was opened, and the young woman opened her mouth and said she was jumping off the moving vehicle. Before she could say ng’we, the driver stepped on the pedal, kukanyaga mafuta, as our people call it. This only fuelled the girl’s wails.

It’s hard to understand why a driver would accelerate when a passenger indicates their desire to exit. Perhaps he hoped her lungs would collapse from shouting and stay calm, and acquiesce to be delivered home, wherever home was.

But before we could digest this baffling road scene, undercover journalists emerged on BBC Africa Eye. They revealed how they had managed to bribe their way and acquire a driver’s licence from the government agency, without even a day’s training.

That’s not all. The scribes also secured road licensing for a vehicle that should have been written off. Instead, the hunk of metal from a junkyard was legally allowed to operate as a 14-seater matatu to ferry Kenyans.

Not even blots of leaked oil on the vehicle’s floor, or even the network of wires mislaid on the floor were detected because the officer assigned was possibly busy counting bribe money in his pocket.

These incidents say a lot about our beloved land. It appears many have had a few nuts in their heads loosened by the recent spates of hardship. It’s been a long time coming. Then you give them a road in the air, without resolving the underlying issues, on the ground.