By Mona Ombogo
When it takes three and a half hours to make a fifteen-minute journey, a few things become clear; either the road system is failing Kenyans, or Kenyans are failing the road system.
On Christmas Eve, that’s how long it took me to get to my house in Athi River, after leaving a lunch meeting near Jomo Kenyatta International Airport; three and a half hours. There was no accident or traffic incident; just Kenyans refusing to follow the law of the road.
Motorists were driving on the road shoulders or creating extra lanes and blocking oncoming traffic; when gridlocks inevitably formed, no one wanted to give the other way. The worst bit of it, traffic police seemed to have given up trying to fix the situation; in fact, they were waving motorists to the road shoulders, encouraging them to drive off-road.
OFF-ROAD DRIVING CAUSES SNARL UPS
Off-road driving is a pet peeve for me because I believe it’s what causes our traffic snarl-ups in the first place. But, after sitting diligently in my lane for three-hours, watching other cars zip past as they disobeyed every single traffic rule, I got so upset that I joined them. I was now a part of the problem, because being a part of the solution didn’t seem to be getting me very far.
IS THIS THE STATE OF THE COUNTRY?
Off-road, it took me thirty minutes to make the rest of the journey home. I had to ask some difficult questions: is this the state of the country? Those who follow the rules are left stuck in traffic while those who don’t, those who cause the problems, zip past to their destinations without repercussion. In fact, the police, who are meant to uphold the law, encourage these characters to break it.
The irony is, if we had all just stuck to our lanes, despite the high traffic of city dwellers travelling for the Christmas holidays, that three and a half-hour journey would have taken a maximum of forty-five minutes, give or take. Cars would move slowly but steadily.
Yet, we all took matters into our own hands, and the law enhancers gave up trying to instill the law. I can’t help thinking, if you want to know the state of a country, look at their roads and how motorists behave, especially in a crisis.
WE NEED HELP…
If the state of our roads is anything to go by, then we are not in a good place in this country. We need help; help to see that sometimes the bigger picture is more important than the immediate individual need, help to understand that if we all just play our role, we all get to where we are going faster.
Our politicians like to say, ‘the law is very clear….’ But is it? I think that’s our problem, the law is not clear at all. It’s a suggestion, not a rule. That’s why we feel nothing about driving off-road and causing mayhem, and our police feel nothing encouraging us to do just that.
We need help. We need to get back to the basics, because if we all decide to interpret rules and regulations as we see fit, we are the very same people who will be stuck in traffic for three and a half hours; time we will never get back.
The law is useless if so few follow it that the lawmakers give up on instilling it.