My first time to board a Tuk Tuk was in the mwambao side of Kenya, Coast, specifically Mombasa. Many Kenyans who haven’t had the opportunity of touring the coastal area tend to think that Mombasa is the only holiday destination. It’s the best known, thanks to the fame it has earned itself and the dubbing of ‘Mombasa Raha’ but there are many towns that can offer the same ambiance Mombasa does. The likes of Kilifi, Malindi, Gedi, Kwale, there is a whole variety to choose from. It is a plus however, to spend sometime in it as it happens to be among the cities of Kenya after Kisumu that is in hugeness.
I was quite young then, probably 9 years of age and my dad took us there. By us I mean him, me, his wife and some cousins. And by there, well you know where. I see the photos of that particular holiday we had. It gives me memory of good old times. I was simply fascinated to board the 3 tyred vehicle that accommodated 3 passengers. It was perfect, just like a triangle. Did you know that all great things come in threes? It was the mode of transport from here to there. The drive is a little uncomfortable as it makes noise you can hardly ignore. You are aware of it throughout the ride. If you are a lover of life, you will make music out of it but if not, you will grumble till you are dropped off.
It’s origin is Thailand and the name Tuk Tuk is a Thai word, written differently of course but the pronunciation is pretty much the same save for the pitch and maybe tone. It is used as a little taxi and majority of the population there use it. It is also common in the Philippines as I’ve witnessed in their soap operas I watched so much. Back then I never thought their Tuk Tuks were like ours. I wasn’t even thinking of anything. I was too absorbed in the main story to notice the tiny details that matter. I know better now.
Tanzanians call it bajaji as they are well known for highly valuing the Swahili language. 90% of Kenyans or even a higher percentage do not know most terms in Swahili yet it is learned from the time they start school. If they decide to follow the 8-4-4 system that is. Being more ‘down to earth’ than we Kenyans, they treat it like a taxi. The passengers are kept on the minimum and if you are a solo passenger, you are sure to be taken to your place of interest. Very appropriate, right?
Kenyans are a business minded people and therefore business is the order of the day. These mini taxis are like every other matatu whereby passengers are crammed in and packed carelessly like sardines. Instead of the 3 passengers at the back and the driver at the front,seven humans are sitted. One more person at the back to total four then the driver sits in between the two at the front na kushika usukani. I’ve done the Math and one trip makes an amount total to two. I told you business is what we do in my country.
Business men and women use it to have their goods delivered to them. This might be among the few times it is used to suit it’s primary purpose in Kenya, or coming close. Keeping it on the low low. We take too many risks especially on our roads. Our quick money making mentality costs us thousands of lives every year. Tuk Tuks are mostly used for short distance travelling. It is not suited for long journeys at all. Don’t even think about it.
Is this really safe anyway? Taking that the mini taxi doesn’t have any seatbelts and it is taken as a convenience because of it’s small size, it can maneuver through traffic just like the nduthi(motor bike). It has a roof hence can shelter you when the sun is too hot or from the showers from heaven. Our ladies need to take care of that human hair that costs a fortune. It will be needed next month again at the salon.
We are living the uber era now. At the click of a button, transport comes to you wherever you are. At the tap of a screen rather. Whichever works for you. I shouldn’t be biased. I have been picked in many types of cars and designs. Everyone has gotten into the business. Besides what’s the need of having your car sleeping in the garage when it could be out there making money for you? We all like chapaa and it doesn’t come hivi hivi, you have to work for it.
If you watch videos on YouTube you’ve probably come across the one where uber users were surprised by being picked up in a Lamborghini. Shut the fridge! Don’t we all want to make rich statements? The expressions on those who got to experience the expensive ride were priceless. I doubt it if the Tuk Tuk owners have thought about mainstreaming and take uber by storm.
I live for the day when I’ll call for an uber and a Tuk Tuk turns up to pick me up😂😂