On a day like this last week, fuel supply stations across the country increased their fuel prices owing to the retention of 16% VAT on fuel tax by the government. This would then lead to a significant rise in the price of commodities and services across various sectors of our economy. Essentially, the transport sector was the first to raise the fare prices because they are primarily dependent on fuel to conduct their errands. If at all the president is to assent to the Finance Bill 2018 which also includes the 16% VAT fuel tax, then we would witness the continued rise in the price of other commodities and rates. One week later and we are still yet to come to terms with the new way of life. We are anticipating the return of our President from his foreign trip hoping that indeed he will save a nation by rejecting the bill. Indeed, tough times call for new measures.
There is one thing that has become unique among Kenyans – creating humor out of just anything! Every time we are undergoing a particular crisis, we cannot fail to find jokes associated with it. In this case, we hear individuals saying that there is one specific region that hasn’t complained about the recent rise of the fuel prices only because they are waiting on the jet fuel prices to rise before they start throwing stones (hehe!). Many memes have been generated in relation to our current fuel crisis.
Away from the fuel crisis and onto the main agenda of this post. Well, today I want to focus on how this crisis is a blessing in disguise. In the past, before bodabodas became common in our suburbs, we used to trek to our homes without taking into various factors into consideration. Our main agenda was to reach home – period! These days, you cannot walk in any suburb without hearing the irritating beeps of a speeding motorcycle or even spotting some riders riding past you without an ounce of care. We have gotten accustomed to riding home merely because the price they charge is within our means. However, with the current fuel crisis, this is bound to change. We are about to witness a situation where some individuals would prefer walking rather than hopping on a motorcycle because of a fare rise. It is at this point that I feel like bubbling, “Brethren, count it all joy as you get used to this new lifestyle of walking, as each step shapes you up and brings you out of lifestyle diseases!” Indeed, walking is a simple form of exercise that we do subconsciously. It would be of great help to the society to see more people embracing walking out of the current fuel crisis.
In more developed suburban areas, we have feeder roads that are tarmacked or fitted with cabro works. Essentially, this could present one with a chance to learn a new skill – skating. Yes! You could embrace skating as a new skill. I have a friend who set skating as one of his 2018 resolutions and true to it, he has moved from knocking knees to amateur status. I am sure most of us dream of skating one day yet we often find excuses for not engaging in it. However, this crisis could present you with the opportunity to begin skating classes. Hurry up! What are you waiting for?
Skating at Aga Khan Walk / Kenyanstar.co.ke
Besides skating, there is also cycling. In Kenya, cycling to work is seen as a lower income class activity while in the developed nations such as the Netherlands, it is regarded to be nobler to cycle rather than drive a car! (Well, two worlds apart there!) In fact, last year in October, Netherlands Prime Minister rode a bicycle to the Royal Palace for a high profile meeting with the King of Netherlands! Is that even possible in Kenya? Picture this, Governors riding bicycles to meet with the President, huh? or Parliamenterians riding bicycles to the National Assembly and the Senate, really? Ahem! I am looking forward to that day when cycling to work would be the new in-thing. A time when we would not be pressured to acquire the latest Mercedes or Subaru model; a moment in time when we would all be glad to cycle to work together not minding how the day will turn out to be but just enjoying the ride to work (tour de job eh!). Well, as of now, these visions remain to be just a fairy tale.
Netherlands Prime Minister, Mark Rutte rides bicycle to Royal Palace! / Premium Times
New Zealands Minister for Women rode to hospital to give birth to her first child. / MPR News
Nevertheless, if the fuel crisis is to persist, we are likely to witness more individuals walking to cover short distances that they would have been glad to board a matatu or hop on a bodaboda before. As they walk, it would be prudent that they use that time wisely by engaging in constructive activities such as listening to informative podcasts or even an audio book. Essentially, they would be killing two birds with one stone (Oh no! Not even two but three birds – exercise for the body as they walk, building up of their mind as they listen to the podcast or audiobook, and accomplishing their main goal that is, reaching their destination).
Various individuals listening to podcasts and audiobooks while on the move.
Indeed, the fuel crisis is laden with blessings in disguise only if we choose to take a look at the bigger picture. Taking up skating is an opportunity to tick off one of the activities found in the bucket lists of many individuals while walking is a great chance to exercise and hence overcome lifestyle diseases in the long run. On the other hand, embracing cycling as a mode of transport could see a revolution in the transport sector in that we would not worry about air pollution. Nonetheless, listening to audiobooks during walks would lead to the birth of healthy and wise individuals. So, what’s your point of view?