Column Squad

Taxi Memoirs: Goodbye Taxis, Hello Pioneer Easy Bus

pionerrYou have not truly lived until you have been chauffeured in a gleaming, air conditioned, soundproofed, spacious car, preferably a little bit raised giving you a vantage point from which you can observe the rat race going on around you.

I know that most Ugandans might never get this experience but the closest they can get this is by riding Pioneer Easy Bus, my favorite mode of transport these days. It has none of the scruffiness and utter crudity of Kampala taxis. You can actually breathe real oxygen which explains why the passengers look hopeful and happy. The drivers themselves seem to be a foreign breed altogether, they are courteous, professional and shockingly smart in their crisp white and orange shirts. The seriousness with which they take their work makes me think that they must have undergone some intensive, fancy professional training before being unleashed on Kampala roads.

Once you have your one way ticket, you are guaranteed of nothing but peace till your destination. Today, dressed in a white silk blouse, I take a window seat doubly reassured of reaching my destination still fresh and clean. With my head held high, I assume a dowager’s pose whose estates are in good order. The whole of Kampala with all its humans and silly contraptions supplicate before me. I smile benignly as we glide from Buganda road and join Bombo road.

In Wandegeya, I notice that on top of all this pleasure, the bus put our entertainment into consideration and there is music showing on a small screen. It is good old Lucky Dube crying for his lost and philandering father. This brings memories for most passengers who are all nodding in unison. Next up is Afrigo Band’s Olumbe lw’obwavu. This time we hum along despite the song’s grim message. A cursory look on my fellow passengers’ faces confirms that all of us on that bus have had our fair tussle with the Bwavu guy; we know him personally and have earned the pips that give the right to sing along.

By the time we get to Ntinda however, the music video has been replaced by some Chinese action movie in which the star dies many times over but keeps resurrecting. I am so consumed by the guy’s indestructability that I find myself in Namugongo; five kilometers away from my intended destination.

Worse still I seem to have run out of cash! The only option is to get off the bus, call my lord and master to rescue me with mobile money. When I tell him that the bus took me all the way to Namugongo, he hits the roof. He even threatens me with a chaperone who will keep me from wandering and getting stranded all over the city. I am so incensed with his attitude because someone who commits the three cardinal sins before breakfast (leaving the toilet sit up, leaving his wet towel on the bathroom floor and never putting back the cap on the toothpaste) should never judge anyone. I consider telling him all his sins but decide against it, after all our three decade long marriage has survived a lot and I am sure it will outlast my newfound obsession of riding the Pioneer Easy Bus.