Yes today I failed to split my hatred into five because there is this huge ball in my throat whose concentration is only bile for the 18-seater commuter taxis that ply different routes in Kigali City. Someone christened them Twegerane, a Kinyarwanda word that means “squeeze together”.
These taxis take four passengers per row and a Kenyan visiting Kigali joked on Twitter that we sit four per row just like PK chewing gum pellets. The moment the seat has three people already, the fourth person has to throw in the twegerane line so that space can be created for him or her.
When bigger capacity vehicles joined the transport sector, the small twegeranes also acquired a new name, Nyakatsi. Nyakatsi refers to the grass thatched houses that were phased out in Rwanda after being considered unfit for people to live in.
I wonder why the same initiative has not been extended to these annoying small taxis because to be honest they, too, are nothing but an inconvenience for commuters. Forget about the pimped rides that ply the Nyamirambo route complete with sport rims and massive sound systems.
I am talking about the ones that seem older than Nelson Mandela. We have all at one time sat in these ones. Yes, if all you remember is the model of Land Cruiser SUV you used five years ago, then this is not the article you will find interesting.
I am talking about the taxis you see, fight for the front seat only to realise that the seat belt is too old it could kill you before the car got involved in an accident. The ones you sit in and find the belt cannot even hold only for the driver to beg you to sit on it just to fool the traffic officers. I wonder if you can fool death in such a situation.
The drivers often have to try four times just to engage a gear while most of the windows long retired from the function of opening and closing. You are literally in an oven right now.
Those sitting in other seats other than the front ones are simply waiting to have their legs broken simply because no matter where you sit, there is a hard metal bar in front of your knee. Any slight sudden breaking or accident will forcefully have the bar crushing your knees to pulp.
If you have not yet noticed, these kinds of taxis are often accommodative of anything and anyone. I have sat in one where my feet were being pecked by chicken. I have also sat in those that have ladies with children on their backs and laps.
And how can I forget the ones that have ladies with huge baskets full of bananas and avocados? It is not just women who make life difficult in these taxis. You all know the men who push huge sacks of cassava flour under the back seat and you are forced to sit with your knees in your face.
The only good thing I can think of about these taxis is that they tend to make you feel taller than you actually are. Well, that is because the leg room is basically nonexistent. If you are really tall then you have to fight for the front seat.
I pray that by the time you read this these old Japanese metallic boxes have been replaced with the more spacious and comfortable Coaster buses.