terrible travel to e-learning africa International conference, 27th May 2007

Moving long distances in and around east africa has always excited me, but having done it for quite a long while, the interest & enthusiasm is fast fading away. Being in correspondence with the organizers of the 2nd International conference on e-learning hosted in Nairobi, a bus trip to Nairobi was another journey to look forward to at the end this May.

Early sunday morning 27th May, 0600hrs, the journey to the Akamba bus stand was in top gear and promptly at, 0700hrs, the bus was rolling through Kampala streets. With good speed, we went through the car jam on jinja street and the terrible bumps along the way towards eastern Uganda. Just before Bugiri town, the bumps are just too worse to ignore, making it worse was the driver, who was driving as if he was competing in a grand prix!
Getting to Busia border at about 1100hrs, we cleared out just fine and we were soon back on our way to Kisumu, the next big town, inside Kenya. All through the journey, am taking time to kick out the boredom, reading a local paper, The Monitor, and enjoying once again both the sugar & tea plantations that dominate this particular route. Getting to Kisumu was pretty fine, enjoyed nyama choma, rested, until we got back on the road after about 30 minutes.

The rosy parts of the journey come to a gloomy end when the bus starts to move without moving!! ;) The bus comes to a complete halt in the middle of nowhere several kilometres and hours from the next big town, Nakuru. The driver comes out with a sheepish smile mentioning that the fuel has just got finished out of the fuel tank.. A round of questions on when we shall next be on the road, where are we? Why was this worked on before? Refunds? I loved their response to anything like refunds; services once sold are not returnable! A fellow passenger so frustrated, devoted time to decode AKAMBA; All Kenyans Anticipate More Breakdown Anguish!!

Regardless of the persistent re-assurances from the both the driver and his co-driver, some frequently travelers on this bus knew the right thing to do already; find alternative transport!
After about over 2 hours of patiently waiting for the bus problems to get solved, which were never solved anyway, a big number of the remain passengers too, found alternative transport.
Time check; 1830, getting a matatu (taxi) to Nakuru town is no easy task as most of the ones passing-by are all full to capacity. One later came by and carried 8 of us to Nakuru amidst strong rains and storm. It finally came to my notice that Kenyans, probably, drive much faster than the Ugandans do, do not ask me about their road accident rates!

Getting to Nakuru at about 2130, we found the mololine couches still fishing for passengers to Nairobi, on board we got as well. From the stage, the driver took us to the police station, where we thoroughly checked for explosives, firearms, stuff that could hurt others. We got to Nairobi about 3 hours later, well past midnight. I could not get picked up then and the most familiar place where the matatu driver could drop us was the akamba bus stage. Looking around for budget lodges nearby, we all got to rest our super tired bodies to atleast have sanity the next morning. Worse still, at this hour of the night, none of us could find something edible!

Lessons learn't: travel with a reliable bus service and always carry drinking water, something edible with you when you travel long distances.



  1. Anonymous5:59 PM

    hey john, akamba-problems sound familiar to me ;)
    well, this time it was no accident luckily. although we were told akamba is the most reliable, i start doubting that...
    cheers from salzburg, harald

  2. Anonymous10:15 PM

    Hello John,
    Always take drinking water with you is the first lesson when travelling in Afrika.
    Eventhough I hope you had aa conference in Nairobi.
    With love from Pingjum, Holland Lineke Duindam.


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