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Everyday Fr. Agapios runs a gauntlet of traffic police and sleeping policemen.  The latter are two to three foot speed bumps that are not always marked.  Their size and location can change without warning. Kenyans drive very fast and overtake each other wherever there is room on the road.  I cannot imagine the chaos without some speed controls.

Note: ‘sleeping policemen’, is not a metaphor for running over actual policemen. It is not meant to be derogatory.  The policemen I met were all very polite and respectful.

These, along with miles of dirt roads, with crater-sized pot holes, deep ruts and high centers cause serious damage to old cars with low clearance like Father’s.  We had to stop and fix tires three times and repair an oil leak, which cost hundreds of Kenyan Schillings (KSh).

The traffic police stand on both sides of the highway, flagging down cars, piki pikis (motorbikes), matakus (vans) and huge trucks. They ‘recommend’ you pay a fine on the spot if they ‘find’ something wrong, or threaten you with a court summons where you will pay a lot more. Father’s car is often targeted because it’s old and a bit clunky.

Most times, Father pays $50 to $200 KSh ($.50 a $2.00 US). This adds up over time, depleting needed funds for school fees and the needs of the orphanage.  Father also pays the school fees for around ten children in addition to the children he supports at the orphanage.

We soon realized traffic police preferred not to find anything wrong with Father’s car or driving with a mzungu (European) traveling with him.  Father got a pass each time – a mzungu pass – but the police are very patient.  The same ones were waiting for Father to pass by without his mzungu sidekick.

Father was on his way to pick me up when he overtook a tractor driving dangerously slowly on the highway. The police signaled for him to stop and asked him to pay.  Father refused. He received a ticket and a summons to got to court within the next two hours and appear before the judge.  The charges included obstruction.  The police claimed he had stopped in the middle of the road as well. That’s why he refused to pay.

The reason people pay the fines on the spot is because it is cheaper than what you will pay in court.  Father always pays, but this time he felt the charge was bogus.  The police report was sent to the court via a piki piki driver who probably did it in exchange for not paying a fine. They pay $50 KSh almost every time they are stopped.  They often will drop their passengers off before the police stop and let another piki piki pick them up on the other side.

Father went to court and ended up paying $15,000.00 KSh ($150 US). That’s the average monthly salary for a teacher.  Ouch!  The police let Father pass the next few times even without his mzungu pass having exacted a large some already from him. As you can see, Father has expenses beyond just those of the orphanage and other students.

The sleeping policemen and traffic fines are here to stay, but a newer car with a higher level of clearance will reduce the money Father has to pay on repairs.  The trick is finding a car that will last, but can be fixed cheaply.

Please consider helping St. Tabitha Orphanage and School acquire a suitable vehicle, one that can handle the roads and carry  several children.  You can also help meet their monthly budget or donate towards a specific need.