Coastweek -- Parking
a vehicle is supposed to be one of the easier exercises that a
driver has to carry out,
writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.
However, there are
many drivers for whom parking is still a daunting task.
travelling out of the country recently and had to catch his
flight at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (commonly
abbreviated JKIA) in Nairobi.
He had decided to
make use of the trip to arrive in Nairobi earlier in the day and
do some business before catching an evening flight to Europe.
A friend of his was
arriving back from a business trip to Argentina and so had asked
whether Kachumbari could take a car from his house and drop it
at the airport for him to use to travel to his house on arrival
Kachumbari agreed to
He had the use of
the car for the day to run his errands and then head to the
His last activity
involved parking in a silo parking of an office complex
somewhere off Riverside Drive in Nairobi.
When he completed
his activity, he took the lift back to the top level of the
silo, got into his car and set out to extract himself from the
silo and into the heavy early evening traffic.
As he was descending
from the eleventh floor in the parking silo, which is where his
host had reserved parking for him, he had to stop after only
descending two levels as there was a driver who was reversing
into a parking space.
The rule in the
office complex was that all vehicles parked anywhere, including
in the silo parking, had to park facing outwards so that in the
event of emergency evacuation, all cars would be able to leave
quickly without having to make too many manoeuvres.
He had to stop to
the let the driver get into the parking as the space allowed for
driving up and down the silo parking was quite narrow.
Two Hummers driving
in opposite directions in the parking silo would have been
unable to pass each other.
The driver started
to reverse her large expensive saloon car into her allocated
parking and after reversing for two metres moved forward again
as she appeared to conclude that she had got too close to the
other vehicles already parked yet to Kachumbari she had plenty
of space to reverse a bit more.
She then inched
forward for a fraction of a metre and then stopped and turned
the wheel to an opposite lock.
She reversed for a
very short distance and then stopped, turned the steering to the
opposite lock and then inched forwards again.
Each manoeuvre back
and forth was barely more than a metre in length.
The space between
the two cars that she was trying to park in between, which it
later turned out to be her allocated parking, had been narrowed
because one of the adjacent cars had parked very close to the
These to and fro
movements by the lady trying to park went on several minutes and
cars began to gather either side of the activity.
The poor driver
started to panic as some of the drivers who were now backed up
on other floors began to hoot and the construction of the
parking silo was such that any noise was amplified as it bounced
off the walls enclosing the silo parking.
The back and forth
cadence got shorter and the parking effort became more futile as
the pressure mounted on the driver.
After a while one of
the drivers decided to come out of their vehicle and offer to
help the lady park the car.
One could almost
hear a sigh of relief as she got out of the car and allowed this
good Samaritan to help park her vehicle.
The fellow got into
the car and realised that there was a reversing camera in the
car so one could see what was going on at the back of the
He had never used
this aid before and decided would do so now.
He was also in a
hurry to park the vehicle so that he could unlock the traffic
jam that had now developed in the silo parking.
Some other drivers
had got out of their vehicles to come and help and stood by and
some of the security staff had also come to the spot because of
the incessant hooting that had been taking place and continued
He reversed once
getting much closer to other parked cars than the vehicle’s
owner had done and then moved forward and again got much closer
to the vehicles ahead of the car he was trying to park.
As he reversed a
second time, his driving foot shot down the accelerator as a
reaction to his hurriedly leaning further sideways to better see
behind despite the fact that there was a reversing screen on the
Before he could move
his foot to step on the brakes, he had rammed hard into one of
the vehicles he was trying to park in between and ricocheted
onto the next vehicle.
The alarms on these
parked vehicles went off and this triggered a couple of other
alarms in adjacent cars.
One has to picture a
situation where there are cars hooting a floor below and above
where this incident was taking place and then add now the alarms
that had been set off.
This added to the
mayhem that was royally brewing in the parking silo.
The good Samaritan
got out to examine the damage and the lady owner of the vehicle
now became extremely angry and railed on the rescuing driver.
Other drivers also
got out and started abusing the fellow – whose only mistake was
that he tried to save a situation but botched it, further due to
It took the security
personnel and one older sober seeming fellow several minutes to
stop the stupidity that was brewing and put some order to what
was rapidly turning into large event precipitated by a lady
trying to park her car at a peak time in a parking silo.
They saw that there
was a reasonable gap that had opened out in the access lanes
which cars could manoeuvre through.
They also decided
that they would have to call all the parties to the incident in
order to agree on how to handle the accident that had happened.
personnel split themselves. Some started directing traffic
through the gap whilst others got the owners of the two other
vehicles which had been hit by the car that was being parked.
They also were able to get cops from a police station a few
minutes away through their rapid response system.
All in all, it took
Kachumbari some thirty minutes from the time he entered his
vehicle to exit from the parking silo to the time he was able to
leave the office complex and join the mad Nairobi traffic.
This cut into his
time seriously but he had – as he usually does – allowed for the
extra one hour to get to the airport and was still able to get
there on time, park the car in the parking silo at the airport
and make his check in after leaving the car keys with a
designated person in one of the outlets at the airport.
This parking silo
incident illustrates how simple things can get completely out of
hand through a series of errors forced by people genuinely
trying to help out in a situation.
The key lesson is
that even in the middle of a seemingly major crisis, some calm
is required to ensure that a bad situation is not made worse
through trying to hurry things to what appears to be an obvious
As Kachumbari says,
slow and steady wins the race!
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