|Location:||nairobi, kenya (1746m)|
|Text:||53 194 kilometres on the road
crime is on the rise in nairobi, once again. this time it's the unexpected effect from long overdue measures to address the problem with nairobi's matatus.
the matatus are kenya's minibuses, driving coffins, the devils of the roads and the main means of transport for kenyans. small, fast, overloaded and driven by maniacs, they supply the press with endless headlines of blood and horror.
fatalism among the drivers has long become a cult which manifests itself through the brightly painted slogans on the outside: "your last voyage" and "ride to hell" or "the undertaker" and similar.
just after i left nairobi in january the government implemented long announced new laws to reduce the traffic problems caused by matatus. these included speed governors to prevent reckless driving, a maximum of 14 people per vehicle, down from up to twenty, and seatbelt to every seat.
no one had seemed to care about the pending changes and for as long as i had been in nairobi there had been no sign of anyone to prepare for the event. when the measures were finally implemented, however, policemen made fortunes while matatu owners tried vainly to adapt to the new laws as fast as they could.
needless to say, there was no way to rebuild several thousand vehicles overnight and even today there is a lack of transport. it causes long waiting lines during rush hour, higher transport fees, and it forces some people to get up very early in the morning in order to walk for one or two hours to get to work.
it also caused widespread unemployment among an already shady and often criminal, society of matatu drivers and their touts. having these people suddenly on the street brought a new wave of violence to the already ill-reputed crime capital of eastern africa.
gunshots were heard frequently and there has been a new wave of car-jacking even in our relatively safe neighbourhood. i originally planned to borough a land rover from a friend of mine, but now i think it's better to rent a cheap, dirty, old japanese car to attract less attention.