March 21, 2021

Just one more… curfew is in 2hrs “masaa bado” … tulia boss… Amka 6 by 6.30 umetoka. Chukua Bypass, outtering and by 7.30 uko SGR. That’s how I ended up having a fast and furious morning chasing time to catch the train down to Mombasa. With only 25minutes left, my uber driver on promise of an extra 500bob, drove faster than any of the Rongai matatus; he would overlap and change lanes at any slightest opportunity. A broken petrol tanker caused massive traffic at JKIA; I kept on looking at the time after every 1 minute sweating and cursing the idea of staying out late.

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To save time, I took a motorbike and rushed to the station seconds away to find the gates closed; the train was however still there. We were like 6people locked out. The security guards manning the gates in a bossy Luhya character, told us to rush to Athi River station and catch the train from there. Without wasting any minute, I rushed to the gate and got another rider who asked for ksh 1,500 fare on promise that if we miss to catch the train I won’t pay him. I had split idea of waiting for the afternoon train at 3pm but doing quick math I realized I would still pay 1000 bob fare and would wait for 7hrs; paying him 1500 was only a difference of 500 and I would have saved time.  We shot fast like an arrow driving dangerously on the wrong side of the highway down to Athi River. He used shortcuts and in no time, I found myself at a train station.

The train arrives Athi river station at 8.22am and we were here less than 10minutes to time.

The route he used was a back route coming from behind the station and I couldn’t see the name Athi river written anywhere and the place looked weird.

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Ni hapa boss?

He seemed hesitant when we arrived and wanted to run as fast as I could. To my surprise, the rider asked for another ksh 1000 saying that we passed Athi river station and he brought me to a next station which was far. I am in travel business and I know every station: which is this other station past Athi River? Are we already at Emali? There would be no way we are at Emali.

He held on to my bag demanding for his cash plus his extra 1k. Other bikers around came to support him speaking in Kikuyu claiming we passed Athi river and he has gone extra distance. I realized the plot; they formed a cartel gang to try and brainwash me holding to time and urgency as a factor. Another lady passenger in haste and fear of again missing the train, believing that we are past Athi River, agreed easily to his rider and paid the extra amount with bitterness all over her face while clicking her tongue better than the Nigerian women. (Mssschewww)

I realized the game and became extremely adamant and refused to pay extra; I told them even if I miss the train its okay and as per our agreement, if I miss I don’t pay and he would be at a loss. I became ignorant and showed them it was not a must I travel this day. He threatened to drive off with my bag but I couldn’t let go of the bike clutch. He was a small bodied person though the jackets made him look slightly built. He tried to move my hand from his handle but the grip was enough to squeeze juice from this piece of metal. I pretended am a cop and that the situation was about to get worse if I miss this train. My tall stature, visible 6pack, hairstyle and dress code was evident enough to tell them am the Government. I could see other riders backing off and fear flowing into his nerves. In Kikuyu, coz I look typical Kalenjin and they knew I won’t understand, one of the riders told him am a tough one, he should let go coz he won’t manage; this insight gave me a lot of confidence to nearly smacking off his bony face.

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I could hear the train approaching blaring its loud trumpet in a distance and time was really on the edge. One thing I love with the SGR train is time punctuality. It leaves and stops exactly on time.

In this fierce stand off without twitching my eyes, the guy asked for the 1500 an amount I was now not ready to pay coz he wanted to con me. I dished out 1k gave it to him and before he could raise his voice, I was off to the gates leaving him shouting all manner of insults and foul play.

I boarded breathing fire and sweating like a cow...