Have you travelled to Nairobi City from other counties, lately?
Well, the lockdown road blocks are a thing – to stem the rapidly spreading Covid-19 pandemic. The tension, the uncertainty as one waits for clearance to leave or enter the city is almost tangible.
The Thika Road block, for instance.
This road block has been mounted off Thika Town, at the Del Monte Factory point. It’s meant to stem the flow of humanity to and from Eastern and Central region. Its perhaps one of the busiest, round the clock.
This is where I am, on a cool Wednesday afternoon seeking to re-enter the city after a few weeks working from the rural home.
A mile or so to the actual block, we join the queue of cars. There are a smattering of armed police officers on foot patrol, holding brief conversations here and there. Presently, a smiling officer asks passengers in our van to alight and walk towards the front of the queue.
The policy is that only the driver stays in a vehicle, to the road block. It’s a work staff van, and everyone has permits. But, still, everyone is silent and nervous.
We alight and start the walk.
The slow mile to the check point feels weird. It’s laden with dreadful feelings. Will I pass the test once again? Have I interacted with a risky person of late?
Dear Lord, I know I’ve sinned and fallen short …. You get it, right? It’s ok to be prayerful.
The walk to the road block testing point reminds one of the 999 steps to the famous Heaven’s Gate. No, not that heaven. We talking of one of the world’s most spectacular locations – a stunning tourist attraction in Hunan, China.
The 999-step stairway to Heaven’s Gate is an architectural wonder, winding up a stunning piece of landscape around Tianmen Mountain. Global tourists have made iconic challenges climbing, hiking and even driving up the steps. It commands a Mecca-kind of reverence for wanderlusts.
Well, the testing tents have a long queue.
It’s easy to ignore the happenings in the tension leading up to the tests, but there’s a lot happening – especially on the business level.
While the pandemic has slowed down and closed up lots of businesses, it has also spawned a couple. At the Thika Road check-point, there’s a lot of personnel around the clock – and this has attracted entrepreneurs.
The road block has security officers, medical officers, charity organizations’ staff and elements of administration. This obviously needs welfare planning from refreshments, feeding and other essential services.
On our queue as we await our turn on the test, a lady in a smart orange apron comes along. She’s balancing colorful, blended juice in tumblers on a tray, selling at Kes. 50/- a piece. They seem tantalizing.
Anything to make us release the tension of the looming tests.
“Have some juice, brother. You are sweating”, she tells me.
“Ok, what’s in it?” I ask, pointing to a reddish-yellow tumbler on her tray.
“Oh, that’s mango juice blended with guava…Its delicious” She says, handing it to me.
“Sina cash, tutalipa vipi?” I ask.
I also want to treat my colleagues. The bill comes to Kes.200.
“I prefer cashless payments. Cash ni risky sana kwa hii road block”. She says. Her name is Naomi.
Naomi visibly lights up. She’s well spoken.
She informs us that she has a Co-op Bank account, and the bank recently assisted her get a till number at no cost on which clients can send money straight to her account. Alternatively, we could also pay through Coop Bank’s M-Pesa pay bill number 400200 straight to the account.
In my case, though, I opted to pay via M-Coop Cash app on my phone. It was easy and convenient – to send money from my Coop Bank account straight to hers – via M-Coop Cash app.
For a minute, we forgot the tension leading up to the test.
For startups or established business owners, learn more on E-commerce Business Solutions or visit the nearest Co-op Bank branch. The bank shall also assist you acquire M-Pesa till numbers to facilitate cashless payments at no cost.