The city’s streets bustle. What seemed like utter chaos just two days ago is already familiar. I can’t understand a word anyone is saying but the city’s patterns are clearly visible. There’s now order to the chaos and the order is commerce.
The transport industry is buzzing. People cram into the hundreds of matatas bouncing through the city’s streets. With fixed fares this is cheap public transport. It costs just KSh20 to travel from Kaptembwo to Nakuru the battered little buses.
Tuk tuk drivers hang out of their vehicle windows at tuk tuk stands. They wave and call to potential passengers but are not obnoxious. We take one when we go to the school. Our tuk tuk has speakers with music playing and it clearly is affecting the battery’s power because we are unable to travel at much more than a slow limp.
Pikky pikky riders sit astride their 150cc motorbikes waiting for passengers. Most wear high visibility vests and have old-fashioned helmets balanced on the tanks. The purpose of the helmet seems to be the rider’s warmth, not anyone’s safety. Many helmets have no chin straps or are have deep cracks in them and none have visors. The bikes are small with knobbly tyres and bark buster hand guards. The riders zip around on them, pushing their way into traffic and cutting corners where possible.
Podi podi riders lean on their distinctive steel framed bicycles. I’ve never seen frames of this configuration in my life. I wonder about the purpose of the rounded bars that lead from stem to fork. Bodi bodi riders take passengers around the city on brightly coloured rear seats. The bikes have footrests and handlebars for the passengers to hold. Many of the podi podi bikes are brightly coloured, making them very attractive to look at.
The transport industry is being well-supported by the Kenyans who live here in Nakuru. Beautiful women in pretty dresses and heels ride on the back of podi podis, and perfectly groomed men in suits and ties cram into matatas. No one wears helmets or seat belts (other than the pikky pikky riders who are cold) and there’s not a zebra crossing or traffic light to be found. Instead, there’s a constant flow of people weaving between each other on their way around the city.
Business here is occurring everywhere. Street stalls sell shoes, second-hand clothes, watches, fruit, vegetables and text books. Mangoes, pineapples and tomatoes must be in season for they are everywhere. Small fronted shops sell internet airtime, mobile phones and motorbikes. Larger shops hold banks and grocery shops. It’s a cacophony of sound and colour.
Unlike some developing countries, trade does not seem to be conducted by merciless hawkers. Rather, it’s done rather willingly. The odd tout will ask whether you want to buy their wares or be a passenger of their transport but mostly “hapana” (no) will be enough to get rid of them. It’s nothing like I experienced in China where there was almost a mob-mentality.
Yes. Nakuru is a town of commerce and trade.