It’s no secret that Nairobi traffic jams are worsening and everybody has their reasons… Some say that the growing middle class with a higher disposable income are keen on flaunting their stuff with their imported Japanese cars.


It’s no secret that Nairobi traffic jams are worsening and everybody has their reasons… Some say that the growing middle class with a higher disposable income are keen on flaunting their stuff with their imported Japanese cars.  I mean it’s quite obvious that the car or matatu in front of you is 90% of the time likely to be a Toyota but let’s not go there for now. Others blame (insert name of elected representative or Serikali in general) for misappropriating funds meant for improving road infrastructure and those who decide to say not so pleasant things about their fellow road users.

From my own experience, there have been times when I have been stuck in a less than 50m stretch for three hours wondering what happened to all sanity.  At such times, I wished I was Inspector Gadget so that I could fold up my car and just walk to my destination or even transform it into a chopper.

In a 2011 study, IBM Institute for Business Value calculated the commuter pain index which ranked Nairobi 4th out of 20 cities worldwide. See the study here. 42% of the respondents  agreed that their stress levels had increased due to traffic congestion and its related woes since 91% of all the respondents lost an average of 1.3 hours.


In light of this study, I thought of various ways that you and I could make use of the fringe hours and  hopefully reduce road rage:

  1. Ask the driver to loan you his newspaper so that you can catch up with the news at no extra cost.
  2. Sleep: This has can be done especially when you live on the outskirts of Nairobi (Rongai, Athi River, Kitengela) since some of them have curtains anyway but word of caution, ensure that don’t pass your stage or that you are not pick-pocketed,
  3. Go to that happy place that is devoid of all impatience and frustrating thoughts. You could actually come up with the next big idea!
  4. Plan your day and other things. Though we love the good ole’ pen and paper but mental notes or your smartphone  might do as well.
  5. Courtesy of the free WiFi in the matatu, update your Facebook status or gram or Snapchat or blog or tweet. Word of caution: beware which street you are on before you flash your smart phone.
  6. Catch up on all the articles that you have clipped to Evernote or  bookmarked on your designated blog reader.
  7. Read that book or magazine that you have been carrying around for the last couple of weeks but have never gotten round to.
  8. If you are bright enough(and brave enough), you could have your breakfast especially if you own a thermo-mug.
  9. For the last-minute crammers, this would be a wonderful opportunity to go through those notes or even catch up on your homework.
  10. Chat up a stranger on the state of the economy, the matatu industry, the weather e.t.c. e.t.c. If you are lucky enough you might discover that he or she is the neighbour that you have never met.
  11. Chat up the conductor a.k.a makanga a.k.a concodi on how a day in his life is like.
  12. If you are alone you can have your 60 seconds of fame and belt out your favourite tunes if you have company, then have your own version of carpool karaoke.
  13. Well, there’s always your indispensable earphones that are permanently attached to your smart device or listen to the car music player. Listen to that podcast or audiobook that you have been putting off.
  14. Listen to the local stations (By the way, does the Kenyan matatu industry have a MoU with Classic 105?)
  15. Call that person that you have been intending to talk for a long while. For pre-paid customers, don’t worry about running out of airtime, because of you”ll find someone selling Bamba 50.
  16. Support the local economy. Buy some of the wares from our ever-entrepreneurial hawkers from newspapers to wall charts to scarves to vuvuzelas to peanuts to mobile chargers. You name it, they’ve got it.
  17. Get out of your vehicle, stretch and talk to other motorists
  18. Fiddle with the fancy gadgets in your car and discover how to actually use your GPS system.
  19. Clean out your compartments. I am sure that there are so many receipts, leaflets, flyers, broken CDs that you really don’t need.
  20. Go to your nearest coffee house, grab a cuppa and wait for the traffic to subside.
  21. This would be the opportune time to pull out your sandals or ngomas and walk to your destination.

Any more ideas? Please share them in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Unsplash

2 thoughts on “21 things you can do in a Nairobi traffic jam.

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