DESPERATION OR FOOLISHNESS?

How Sh3,000 and a coffin helps travellers to Western

They part with Sh2,000-Sh3,000 to be smuggled from Nairobi to Limuru

In Summary

• The trip in a hearse terminates at Limuru from where the smuggled person can easily get transport to Nyanza and the rest of Western Kenya.

• Nairobi-bound travellers are similarly dropped at Limuru and smuggled on motorbikes to the nearest town from where they board city matatus.

Mombasa residents rounded up before the start of the curfew on March 27, 2020.
Mombasa residents rounded up before the start of the curfew on March 27, 2020.
Image: JOHN CHESOLI

 

Unscrupulous Kenyans have devised ways of defeating the state order on cessation of movement in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale.

They charge Sh2,000-Sh3,000 to smuggle an individual from Nairobi in a coffin "for burial in Western Kenya".

 

But the trip in a hearse terminates at Limuru from where the smuggled person can easily get transport to Nyanza and the rest of Western Kenya.

The Nairobi-bound travellers from Western regions are similarly dropped at Limuru and smuggled on motorbikes through panya routes to the nearest town from where they board matatus to the city.

Multiple sources told the Star that those intending to travel upcountry liaise with families moving the bodies upcountry for burial to be included among the mourners.

The deal is clinched after they pay the abnormally high fare to Limuru.

Daniel Oketch (real name concealed) is a Lang'ata-based plumber. He told the Star that he recently travelled to and from Siaya “easily using some tricks.”

Oketch had to camp at the City Mortuary to find out which family was moving a body to Nyanza.

“They charged me Sh2,500 to be among those cleared to travel with the body,” he said. 

 

Byron Mugere, another city resident, travelled to Kisii last week using the same mode of transport. He pretended to be part of the bereaved family as the body was collected from the Chiromo Mortuary. It was easy after parting with Sh2,000.

“Though the fare is high, it is better than sitting in Nairobi jobless and hungry. At home, I’m able to do some menial jobs and survive or till my parents' farm,” he said, oblivious to the danger he exposed himself and his relatives to from the contagious coronavirus.

The number of coronavirus infections in the country was by Wednesday 1,026, the bulk of them community transmissions. 

Kisii and Kirinyaga counties are the latest counties to report the infection, with one each as of Wednesday. 

“I only had to behave as the most affected person by the loss,” Mugere said.

Sam Onywera from Eldoret told the Star he was in Nairobi on Wednesday. "There are many panya routes into the city," he said.

Last weekend, President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed his frustration at how people are behaving irresponsibly by sneaking out of locked down areas.

He told of a young man who sneaked out of Mombasa. He dodged all the police roadblocks, ending up at Kathiani in Machakos county where he infected his sister. 

"The young man thought he was shrewd and had out-manoeuvred the police to his rural home in Kathiani, taking the virus there, yet it had not been there before," the President said in his address to the nation on Saturday. 

In some instances, the police are complicit. They will let you through a road block as long as you part with some "kitu kidogo". 

Joss Koech told the Star he "has a senior police friend who facilitates his movements as long as I  ensure he drinks 'thick' tea."

Meanwhile, forgers on Luthuli Avenue and River Road are laughing all the way to the bank. They forge police travelling passes at premium rates. 

 

- mwaniki fm