The Dissimilarity of Nairobi and Hargeisa Bus Riding

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Commutting in Hargeisa Somaliland

By: Pendo Mwajuma

Somaliland sun – You go to a bus station. It’s calm and quiet with no too much hustles at all. The buses are plain and simple with many even having curtains on the windows.

A simple call by the conductor to ride on his bus and if ok with that you go to it. Peacefully you get into the bus heading town or home depending on where you are. You find a suitable seat and you sit down waiting for the take off. Soon the bus is full or almost full and it starts to head to its destination.

Inside the bus it’s a peaceful and calm environment. No loud talks, with everyone seated on their preferred places awaiting their destinations to be reached. No loud music in fact no music at all. No big screens with all sorts of music videos. No hearing the shouts of the conductor trying to convince more people into the bus. You can actually relax and think of something or even write something like I did this article.

The bus moves slowly and swiftly as if the ones inside are not in any hurry. It stops at various points to either drop a client or check any possible passengers. After sometime someone outside stops the bus and the bus stops if there is space left.

The ones inside help ushering him or her in by removing the middle seats to create space, same thing happens when someone reaches his or her destination.

A Bus created traffic jam in HargeisaFor me it is surprising that, the conductor actually waits for someone to fully get to the bus or off the bus before signaling the driver to start continuing with the journey.

Then here comes a woman. The only seats left are the front ones or the ones near the door and usually not comfortable for the buses don’t have front passenger doors so the only way for the new female passenger is to get there by pulling her dress up and jump over to the front seats or sit near the door with all its discomforts.

A man who has a comfortable seat and with casual grace gets up, jumps over to the front seats or near the door and lets the woman take his comfortable seat.

How considerate for the same thing happens if it is elderly people who as traditions dictate is accorded respect by all.

Most drivers all over Somaliland do not adhere to traffic rules mstly out of ignoranceThe fare remains constant come what may. And how does the conductor collect the fare?

You won’t believe for he just remains at the door and then everyone collects their money from the back forwarding to the front. What a joke! I don’t know if it’s too much trust involved here that it’s just believed that everyone is going to give what they are supposed to, but back in my home Kenya that won’t happen anywhere in the entire country.

Yes with all the calm and no hassle PSV service the major negativity of buses in Hargeisa is the carelessness of drivers who stop anywhere haphazardly either dropping or collecting passengers thence obstructing other motorists which results in irregular traffic jams here and there.

Another anomaly with buses hear in Hargeisa is that most are very old thus rundown giving them a glamourless look not to mention that they are at such unworthy of the roads they tread on.

A Nairobi psvIn contrast to Somaliland the normal hustle and bustle of the city with all sorts of noise welcomes you to the bus station an indication that people are busy trying to either make a living or journeying to one place or another.

Hawkers here and there, try to convince the public, some unsuspecting to buy various fake wares sprinkled with some genuine ones, while conductors on contract to numerous bus and Matatu (Mini bus PSV) companies are trying to convince you and others to get into this or that bus.

In the meantime drivers hoot to confirm imminent departure while porters busily run here and there taking loads and if not careful you could easily get knocked down or lose your baggage.

Surprisingly you find your route bus in lieu of how commuters are hustled into the buses which are usually adorned artistically with pictures of famous and presumably “cool” personalities as is the norm that range from musicians, soccer players, presidents and movie stars to name a few both local and foreign that come with all sorts of messages and quotes written on them inside and outside.

Nairobi busesWith all the hustle and bustle you get into the bus and find a seat. Of course you were welcomed by a huge bang of music not to mention the big screen in front of you with all sorts of music videos and I don’t need to tell you how music videos are like nowadays.

Well, for a youth like me, all this ain’t a problem. I find it entertaining and “cool” and don’t even mind the loud music because I do the same at the comfort of my own room.

Problem is not everyone is a youth. Even old people or those with hearing problems take buses. But then again without all electronically loud gadgets public service vehicles –PSV stand to lose customers because most of the clients are youths and they like these kind of things. You can actually find someone waiting for a certain bus, named Manchester United or even Ceerigavo Forever etc , well such are the names given to the buses, all because it has all the comforts she needs.

That is not all. Inside you are provided with WI-FI so you can surf the internet all you want with comfortable seats all in a bid to make you enjoy your ride which is worth awhile because with the city’s traffic jam, trust me you are going to need all the comfort possible.

The journey starts and soon someone reaches his or her destination and gets off the bus. If not careful he can be run over because the bus won’t actually wait for him to fully get off. We all are in a hurry here trying to make a living and besides we need to beat the big traffic jam that is always there. The bus reaches somewhere else and someone outside wants to get in. so the bus stops for a second and before he settles the bus starts to move so he better watch out.

And now comes the time to pay the charges and all of a sudden an aggressive conductor announces that the fare has been hiked. You came in knowing the fare to be Ksh30 but now you are told its Ksh150.

But why? You ask. Oh, it’s all because the weather has changed a bit and now it looks like it might rain. Now what are you going to do since you have already travelled a fair distance, not to mention maybe you are actually enjoying the loud blasting music?

But of course you came prepared because such occurrences are to be expected in our beloved country Kenya and more in Nairobi the capital city.

You are going until the last destination of the bus so you are comfortably seated waiting to be dropped exactly at your bus stop . Suddenly you hear the conductor announcing that the bus has reached its last destination.

You look out the window and realize your preferred embarkation stage is still far. You try to complain but of course no one will hear you, the conductor insists that the bus is going to turn from there and go back from where it came from.

So the only way to get back at them is to shout abusive words whether they here or not and despite coughing up more than 60% over regular commuting charges you start walking the rest of the journey. You took the bus at 2PM now its 6PM and yet to reach home.

Well, mostly Kenyans tend to blame it on the traffic jam but such are tales of our beloved city Nairobi, the city under the sun we call it.

Surely Its hoped that Kenyan public transporters can take a leaf from their counterparts in Somaliland where commuting is calm and quiet that is devoid of too much hustle

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