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Commuting in the city-is it worth the hustle?

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I find commuting convenient at times, but in other times I wish for own wheels.

If you like reading while traveling or checking out the new car models and number plates on the road like me, you will enjoy commuting. If you have a hectic work schedule, you will enjoy boarding a matatu because it will give you ample time to sleep while commuting. If you drink, you are also likely to enjoy boarding a PSV as it is a cheap way to evade the alcoblow. However, there are several experiences that will make you think twice about the matatu.

Sometime ago, I sat next to a drunken passenger who decided to turn his seat into a urinal. You can guess where his pee went. I have also sat with someone who had TB and yet insisted on keeping the window closed, and another who decided to take over my space because his seat did not have enough leg room. Today, I sat with high school students whose weight only my lap could bear. In the seat in front, a drunken man just threw up and his seat mate had to put up with the vomit till his destination.

Do I need to mention the harsh behavior of some rude conductors? Conductors who talk to customers old enough to be their grandparents with a lot of disrespect just because of a few coins? Those who push their customers out because of fare disputes, regardless of time, weather condition or even the environment?

Just recently, some were convicted for stripping and even raping female commuters. I have witnessed with my own eyes conductors drag commuters from a matatu because of fare disputes. I cannot even recount the many times some brutal operators have killed passengers because they did not have enough fare, often a dispute of KES 10 fare. Not to forget the organized crime that happens on some routes, where conductors connive with criminals to steal from their customers. Sometimes back, the police had even advised Nairobians to avoid boarding some matatus because of this.

Then there are those times when the conductors catch you off guard and want to utilize the only chance they have to embarrass you. It has happened to me once, and to others severally especially when you give the conductor a big note to deduct fare. Sometimes they give your change to the wrong person, who is not honest enough to return. Sometimes you just forget to pick your change, and since we do not mark the registration numbers of the matatus we board, we have to put up with the loss.

Now that el nino is on the way, commuters need to brace for long commuting hours. Not because of the traffic jams that accompany rains but the leaking windows and roofs of matatus in Nairobi and unpredictable fares. Most routes have mud, and commuters carry this to the matatu only to deposit it on your shoes, foot, or trouser.

Well, since I also commute and enjoy some benefits in the long run, I better pen off here and wish commuters a safe ride.

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