Report on my visit to Kenya, particularly dealing with the use of bicycles.
My name is Pieter Bajema. I am Dutch, I live in Münster (Germany) and I retired at the beginning of 2007.
I have started a project in Kenya for full and half orphans living near Mount Kenya, approx. 200 km from Nairobi.
The village where the children live is situated 20 km from Nanyuki, a town on the equator at a height of 1.800 metres. .
IIn the summer of 2007, I visited part of the country and found out that bicycles are a vital means of transport.
Although bicycles are used very often, there are no bicycle tracks and only very few footpaths so that everybody has to use the same road.
The cyclists as well as the pedestrians have to be very careful, because drivers of cars and trucks do not show any consideration for them.
The law of the jungle prevails here.
Riding to work
Bicycles are used to ride to work like we do here, however, many people go on foot. According to German standards, the bicycles are bad quality, because they are imported from China.
Bicycles are most often used to carry loads.
Anything you can think of is loaded on a bicycle and tied up.
Many kilos, sometimes over a 100 are carried along which is often the total amount of goods one wants to sell.
Many kilometres are covered including slopes to sell something. On the picture below, you see a man on foot, because the bicycle is loaded too heavily to ride.
When I took the picture, he still had to cover 10 km.
On the east coast of Kenya , which I visited, bicycles are often used for transporting people (the bicycle taxi).
Of course, cars are also used as taxis, but compared to the bicycle taxi they are too expensive for many people.
The third option is to use a Tuktuk. A Tuktuk is a moped with 3 wheels as you can see on the picture below.
A ride with a Tuktuk costs 50 Ksh (Kenya shilling) or € 0.55. It can carry 3 people.
Of course, a bicycle is only meant for one passenger. You sit down on the carrier and are taken to the desired place for 30 Ksh.
A pillow has been fixed to the carrier to provide a comfortable seat. This is indispensable, because the streets are in a bad condition. Most of the roads are not asphalted.
Malindi, a town on the east coast where this picture was taken, was built on a reef and you can still see and feel this!
Because there are many bicycles around, there are many bicycle shops as well.
There is little choice of new bicycles, so that you do not have to think very long before deciding which one to buy.
When your bicycle breaks down, you can repair it yourself in a bicycle shop.