What does driving in Nairobi look like?
Driving in Nairobi can be both fun and stressful. You will get your directions and live traffic updates on Maps for easy planning. Most roads are predictable and hence easy to navigate.
How are Nairobi roads on Mondays?
Common sense will tell you that on Monday, most people are rushing to work for the early morning briefings after enjoying a good rest over the weekend. Roads are thus very busy in the morning, but clear during the day.
How are Nairobi roads on Tuesdays?
On Tuesday, the situation is less tense and less busy. Vehicles are very few on the road and boarding a matatu during the day on some routes can really waste your time. If driving, do not expect much traffic.
How are Nairobi roads on Wednesdays?
On Wednesday, the markets are very active and most of the cargo from Mombasa has started arriving in Nairobi. Leave early in the morning because roads are crazy with traffic the whole day, with a few lucky breaks.
How are Nairobi roads on Thursdays?
On Thursday, people are tired but still looking up to the upcoming weekend. There is moderate traffic build up on the roads so consult your online map or street cameras before leaving.
How are Nairobi roads on Fridays?
On Friday, people are spending some extra time in social places drinking and roasting meat, save for socialisation ban that came with coronavirus. Roads are busy in the evening.
How are Nairobi roads on Saturday?
On Saturday, people are going for family outings and so the roads are parked in the morning and in the evening as they return home.
How are Nairobi roads on Sunday?
On Sunday, everybody is at church or resting ahead of the busy week. The roads are clear all day long.
People you will encounter while driving in Nairobi
Busy days can give you a major headache while driving in Nairobi. Top this up with some road users you may encounter on the roads.
Most drivers in Nairobi have come to terms with the fact that you should drive as if you are the only sane driver on the road. They also have an unwritten rule: “As long as you don’t hit the car in front, you are safe.” This is because there are many drivers who hold valid driving licenses without any training or tests. Others are qualified but dangerous drivers, not to forget the reckless boda boda riders and careless pedestrians who do not follow any traffic rule on Nairobi roads.
Some of the people that will surely test your patience in Nairobi include:
- Motorists who believe that cars should have wings just like planes.
- Pedestrians who think that zebra crossings were made for zebras.
- Traffic police officers who believe that coloured lights are more effective in a disco theatre.
- Matatu drivers who behave like the government forgot to expand the road by converting the pavement into a fast-lane.
- Boda boda riders who believe every car was once a motorbike.
- A gang that sells stolen car accessories to the original owners at a throwaway price.
How Nairobi car accessory thieves operate
The most dangerous group here is the last lot because you never see them coming or leaving. They can remove any part of your car while you are inside driving, fueling, or just waiting, and sell it back to you without blinking.
Drivers who buy second-hand Toyota Fielder mirrors at Kirinyaga road understand this too well. The gangs do not operate alone but as a cartel. There are those who steal, those who stock it, and those who sell the accessories back to the owners.
What accessories are likely to be stolen from your car?
Toyota drivers know that it is very easy to lose a side mirror in a traffic jam than it is to suffer a puncture at a construction site. However, regardless of your car model, there are items you will always find missing as long as you are driving in Nairobi. These include:
- Diff covers
- Rear wipers
- Coolant tank cover
- Wiper water tank cap
- Engine oil dipstick
- Shock absorbers
- Suspension bushes
- Fuel tank lid
You will be fueling your car when all of a sudden you notice that the dipstick is missing. Or pressing the brakes in traffic jam when your car starts producing a creaking noise. Or spot a leak only to find that different tank covers are missing. But the attendant or mechanic will be quick to offer you a second-hand version at an affordable rate, and that is likely to have been intentionally pulled out of another car waiting for a quick buyer.
Where did my dipstick go?
One of the places you are likely to leave your dipstick is at the petrol station. If you stop to fuel at a new petrol station, do not ask them to ‘niangalilie mbele.’ And if you want them to check the oil or wiper water level for you, be there to ensure that your dipstick returns to its position. This also the coolant tank cover and wiper water tank cap.
The other notorious place you are likely to lose your car accessories is at the car wash. Do not leave strangers to clean your car. And if you do, be sure to check if these accessories are back in place.
You can also lose your dashboard wiping cloth, car charger, coolant, and oil leftovers that you had kept in the back seat or boot at the car wash.
Another group of people that can steal your car parts especially bushes and shock absorbers is mechanics. Several random mechanics have told me how they steal from clients to make an extra coin. This especially affects drivers who repair their cars on credit to pay later.
If the mechanic had hoped to make some money that day and you fail to pay immediately, he may replace some of your good parts with defective ones so that you can pay him when you return for an exchange. They may even sell your parts to other drivers as interest on the credit facility you obtained. This can also happen if you leave your car with strangers for service or repairs.
It is always a bad idea to drive in a crowded area. Major roads during traffic jams are safer than a crowded market where someone can just pluck off your wipers are disappear into thin air. Avoid driving in busy markets such as Eastleigh and Wakulima market. You can even be vandalised and have anybody to blame.
Driving in Nairobi is neither easy nor for the faint-hearted. To enjoy your drive, you must stay alert on the road as well as be careful when obtaining different services. Most people will consider you lucky enough to even drive and will be seeking to share what you have by stealing an accessory to sell it back at a small fee. Of course, there are many service providers you can trust, but you need to take full responsibility for your car. Be there when you should, and delaying your mechanic’s payment can turn him (they are often men) into a kleptomaniac.