Commute Amid the Drama, Tragedies

Apr 9 , 2022
By Kidist Yidnekachew

While commuting, one can find the streets to be a source of inspiration and learning. They are the one place that can make one think about life, not only one's own but that of others. There are incidents that should make us think twice.

Hard to miss on the streets are the less fortunate, especially mothers that sit on the median strip of the road nursing their babies. Recently, I have seen many mothers sitting in the lane in the middle of the road carrying their newborns. They would either be breastfeeding them or simply holding them. My heart stops each time a car stops near them or when the road is crowded.

What if a car hits them and the poor baby they are holding?

They are out there to survive and being by the side of major roads where some people drive expensive cars sounds like a good idea, but they are sitting on a tiny space in the middle of a busy road.

What if an accident happens? It is hard to imagine such tragedies. Is it worth it to put one's newborns in that position, even in the name of getting food?

They could ask for money in parts of the road that are safe or come up with a safer way of making a living. It may not be right to judge women under such circumstances but something needs to be said for the safety of these mothers and their children. While nothing short of comprehensive social welfare policies could sustainably address the crisis, the authorities should make sure these women are off the streets and far away from danger in the short term.

But that is not the only thing one notices commuting. There is the whole drama of mini-bus taxis. As many might have noticed, the weather is very hot these days, especially in the afternoon. Thus, when an empty taxi comes and I get to choose the seats, I sit on the side away from direct sunlight.

In fact, the seat shielded from direct sunlight is highly sought after; some commuters, seeing that no such seats are left prefer to wait for another mini-bus. This is fine. I also do the same when I am not in a hurry. If I see that the spot available is closer to the window where the seat is hot, I do not get in the taxi. Sometimes, it is not worth getting sunburned.

I do not ask other passengers to scoot over as that would not be fair. Some people, though, make it an obligation to move. When I do not, they give me a look as if I had taken something away from them. They think they are more privileged or had reserved for themselves the seat in the mini-bus with the most shade. These types of people are hard to tolerate. They do not mind others getting sunburned as long as it is not them.

Neither are mini-bus taxi drivers and their assistants short of drama. Sometimes, there are four of them at a station waiting to load passengers while there are a bunch of people queued for a mini-bus but to another area. There are three taxis waiting to load passengers when a fourth one comes hoping to get lucky.

No doubt, some routes are not as profitable, either because the tariff is too low or there are too few passengers for their trip back. But, too often, the drivers and assistants seem to spend such an excessive amount of time waiting for passengers that it could not be more profitable than the less popular routes.

I once asked a taxi assistant why that was the case, hoping he would drive to my destination.

“I don’t want to go there,” he said, stubbornly. It is simple as that for him.

PUBLISHED ON Apr 09,2022 [ VOL 23 , NO 1145]

Kidist Yidnekachew is interested in art, human nature and behaviour. She has studied psychology, journalism and communications and can be reached at (

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