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The East African : June 9th 2014
The EastAfrican II t≥avel ‘‘ The route was beautiful and I got to see windmills and Shetland ponies. I walked up the road to the campus De Baak by the sea and asked where the class was being held. The receptionist gave me a puzzled look and said she had not heard anything about it, but decided to check online. ‘Maybe it is on the other campus in Driebergen,’ she said.” MAGAZINE JUNE 7-13,2014 mother had taught me about not talking to strangers. But, desperate times call for desperate measures and if it had not been for this stranger I would have ended up in Germany. My mother would understand. I somehow misplaced my chip card and had to buy a paper ticket at some point during my journey. I soon learned that the paper ticket could not be used on the train and the conductor threatened to fine me 50 euros plus the actual fare. However, she let me off with a warning and let me ride for free but told me not to do it again. I now know better. My British companion told me he was A city tour boat in a canal in Amsterdam. Picture: Clara Wanjiku Odero Lessons f≥om Amste≥dam’s e∞cient public t≥anspo≥t system Nai≥obi’s un≥eliable t≥anspo≥t system means you get whe≥e you a≥e going when you get the≥e. Amste≥dam is the exact opposite, w≥ites CLARA WANJIKU ODERO A n efficient public transport system is quite a foreign concept to me. I am from Nairobi where matatus act like a mafia gang terrorising citi- zens and hiking fares haphazardly or going on strike at a moment’s notice. Rain often causes traffic jams that are hours long. Nairobi’s unreliable transport system means you get where you are going when you get there. Amsterdam is the exact opposite. You can plan your trip through the site OV9292 by entering the time you want to arrive, where your starting point is and it will give you travel options from the tram to the bus. You can either buy a ticket on the tram/ bus or buy a chip card and load it up and swipe as you get into the tram. You can print out the instructions so that you don’t get lost. I had travelled to Amsterdam for a short course and to break the monotony, my hosts decided to have the class at one of their other campuses, which was two hours away by bus. As luck would have it, I missed the school bus but still had to find my way to class. A kind soul at the school printed out the directions to the new campus, de Baak by the sea in Noordwijk and I was soon on my way. The trip would take two hours and involved taking a bus, then a train, and then another bus. Navigating a new transport system can be a nightmare, but it is worse when you have no idea where you are going. I was frazzled but at the train station where I almost took a train to Germany, I met an old British man who helped me get a train to Leiden, after which I was to take a bus to Noordwijk. It went against everything my getting a≥ound Holland’s network of buses and trams serves both urban and regional districts of Amsterdam. The Hague and Rotterdam have trams and Amsterdam and Rotterdam have underground trains as well. Regional buses travel to the smaller towns and villages. The cities of The Hague, Amsterdam and Rotterdam offer transportation by underground. Amsterdam and Rotterdam also have a subway system. The metro runs on its own track, completely separated from other traffic. Part of the route lies underground in a tunnel, part lies on an elevated track. hollandtour.org on his way to a walking competition. He took me to the bus station where I could get a bus to Noordwijk. I was now hopeful that I would make it to class after all! He patiently waited for me to get the right bus and I settled down for the 45-minute bus ride, proud that I was able to make it in time. Scenic route The route was beautiful and I got to see windmills and Shetland ponies. I walked up the road to the campus De Baak by the sea and asked where the class was being held. The receptionist gave me a puzzled look and said she had not heard anything about it, but decided to check online. “Maybe it is on the other campus in Driebergen,” she said. Turns out Driebergen is another two hours away. I have to take a bus to Utrecht, take the train from Utrecht to Leiden and from Leiden take a bus to Driebergen. She prints out the directions for me from the OV9292 site as I run to catch the bus, which is going to be there in six minutes. I make my train transfers and the bus station is right next to the train station. How convenient. I catch my bus to Driebergen and make it to class in the afternoon. The topic is innovation in Kenya, which unlike transport in the Netherlands, I am an expert on. I have heard that IBM is trying to sort out the traffic mess in Nairobi. I may have found a way to use my four hour trip to help. For a country as technologically savvy as Kenya, I think a site like OV9292, integrated with M-Pesa, would be fantastic. Now we just need to get the matatus to agree to get us there on time.
June 2nd 2014
June 16th 2014