Driving in Kenya

Driving in Kenya is an experience. Roads full of potholes have become much worse in the last weeks since the rains have started. To pass your driving test all you have to do is start the car and drive in second gear for about 200m.

As a result you have to keep all your senses at full alert. And use your horn. A lot.

This morning I took Amaia to the airport.

In the roundabout on Argwings Khodek Road a car drives in right in front of me without looking. I beep the horn for the first time.

On Ngong Road a car overtakes a lorry right in front of me. I step hard on the break, flash my lights and use the horn for the second time.

As I get down on Uhuru Highway on the way to Mombasa Road, slow moving lorries on the way to the port take up both lanes. There is no understanding that there is a slow and a fast lane so I have to constantly weave in and out while looking out for crazy matatu drivers who stop in the middle of the road to let off passengers.

At the first police road block I get stopped and asked for my driver’s license. With my heart pounding I produce my international driver’s license from the glove compartment. ‘What’s this?’ the policeman says. ‘This is not a driver’s license. Where is your real one?’ I give him my Swedish one which is not valid in Kenya. ‘Ah, that’s better’, he says. ‘I’ve been here all night, can you buy me a soda?’ ‘Are you asking me to bribe you?’ I say and laugh, and he laughs and waves me on.

I continue driving, dodging pot holes while keeping an eye on the traffic.

At the second police road block the police man who stops me takes a long look at the insurance badge on the car. You can see how he is willing for it to be expired so that he can have some ‘tea’. My heart stops for a second. Eventually he waves me on with a frown.

On the way back I once again have to weave in and out between the lorries who are spewing out black smoke and doing 40 km/h on the motorway.

In the hill on Mbagathi Way two rubbish collecting trucks are driving extremely slowly side by side and a long line of cars form behind them. On Ngong Road I eventually get a chance to overtake them. As I am just about to overtake the first one, it swerves to the right, leaving no space for me. I step hard on the break, press down hard on the horn and swear under my breath.

Eventually I reach home. I have survived another day.


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