Heart-Breaking Tales of Nairobians Walking to Work Daily

Stock image of Kenyans crossing a street in Nairobi.
  • Nairobi residents took to social media and shared both hilarious and heartbreaking tales of how they struggle to make ends meet and cut down on daily expenditures. 

    In a detailed thread on Twitter, on Wednesday, August 18, most of them narrated their past horrible experiences as victims of necessities. Some shared their unpalatable experiences during internships, first jobs, college life, and during their day to day activities within Nairobi Central Business District (CBD).

    Walking to and from work was one of the common tribulations shared, including waking up in the morning way early and staying till very late in town, idling so as to pay less bus fare. Others narrated how they used to spend hours in town, braving the morning cold and killing time to avoid reporting at work earlier than expected, after enjoying free or cheap rides. 

    “While I was undertaking my attachment at University of Nairobi towers in 2016, I used to leave Kawangware at 5 am so that I pay Ksh20 fare. After checking out of work at 5 pm, I used to sit at Jevanjee Gardens up to 9 pm, so that I could pay less bus fare again,” one Simon narrated. 

    Stock image of Kenyans crossing a street in Nairobi.
    Simon Kiragu

    Some used to risk their lives by using dangerous, dark alleys but didn’t find it a threat to their dear lives, owing to the many serious problems they had faced in their endeavours to make ends meet. 

    The thread was a response to one Francis Njoroge who recalled how he walked from Wetlands to Ruaka (16.2 kilometres) while it was raining. 

    “Being broke and not having fare. The hardest part of the walk was the Village market to the Australian Embassy, where there are no sidewalks and street lights,” Njoroge remembered. 

    Githuku wa Rukuini recalled how walking to and from Nairobi’s Central Business District (CBD) was a common trend among people living in informal settlements from as early as 2000. 

    Most social media users could relate to the challenges, with some claiming that thousands of Kenyans go through the same predicaments every day. There are claims that over 50 per cent of Nairobi residents who live in the informal settlements walk to work every day. 

    “I have walked long distances in Nairobi. But there is a time I walked from town to Lower Kabete. In 2019, I walked from Warûkû to Waithaka. I was broke and could not even afford a meal. You arrive home, drink five jugs of water before sleeping. Privileged people will never understand these issues,” Kibe J lamented. 

    “I walked from Langata to Gikomba back in 2010. My only child was 8 years and I was jobless. My savings were depleted and I was going to beg from a well-to-do relative. I had lost my job at a multinational due to the 2008 post-election clashes and global recession. Sadly, she did not even give me bus fare back home,” Keyser Soze lamented. 

    Edith Nelly, then an expectant mother added that she walked from Kiganjo to Kiamwangi to work at a site only to find out that they had already relocated. She had to walk 10 more kilometres before a good samaritan offered her a ride to the site.

    One funny post from a social media user identified as Sicario was a breather for others, who laughed at his predicament. The Nairobian narrated how he one day only had Ksh30 and touts were charging Ksh20 fare from Odeon Cinema to Uthiru.

    However, Sicario felt pressed and rushed to relieve himself at a public toilet, where he paid Ksh10. On returning to the terminus, he was shocked to find out that bus fare had shot up to Ksh30. 

    “Learn to talk to people. you would be surprised how many are ready to help you out because they have been in similar situations,” one resident with a pseudonym advised. 

    Danicho Knaippier noted that despite the fact that some people avoid helping those who are stranded for fear of being conned, he usually helps particularly those without bus fare. 

    Snarled-up traffic in Nairobi