A journey on board a bus from Gaborone to Francistown swayed from jokes and humour to frustration as the bus broke down in Palapye recently. Conversation began in Gaborone with passengers paying attention to the driving style of the driver:
Leather cap: I am just curious about when we are going to arrive in Francistown.
Brown Jacket Man: From the look of things, I am sure we will arrive earlier than expected
Leather cap: Looks can be deceiving. He may be driving like this now in the bustling streets but when he is alone on the A1 his true driving will reveal itself. These buses and the drivers are still youngsters at taking on the A1. When in Gabs they will be speeding and overtaking but the moment they are on A1 it’s a different story.
Brown Jacket Man: Ah, I see, they just go for one round and they are tired, typical.
Leather cap: Yes indeed. We will see the bus slacking on the A1, complaining that it has been overworked.
Brown Jacket Man: Someone will be complaining of cramps and that they need to rest. All the complaints in the world will start.
Leather cap: That is the youthful exuberance, they start pumping hard and fast but they lack stamina. I know how old man like the ugly Seabelo Volvo bus operates. The looks of that bus with its ugly forehead may seem like the bus has no fighting strength but put it on the A1 and you will see wonders. It will go for rounds on end without gasping for air or complaining of cramps.
Brown Jacket Man: The old ones have experience. They don’t just blast into things. But when we were boarding the driver was boasting that he will be working hard on the A1, and that he is a ‘driver’.
Leather cap: He was boasting? Boasters are bad performers! You will see, we are spending the night on the road.
After an interlude of sleeping and small chat, the conversation started again when the bus started ‘complaining’ of what was later found to be an engine airlock. The bus only manages to reach the Palapye rank.
Brown Jacket Man: What is going on now? Is he tired already?
Leather cap: There goes your ‘driver’ and his bus, in the middle of business and they fall out in exhaustion. What did I tell you?
African Attire Lady: You said it indeed. But what is going on?
Leather cap: Our bus is exhausted, we overworked it. (To the men fixing the bus by pumping the engine) Pump guys, pump our bus so we can get going. We are not going to abandon our bus just because it can’t go for long without rest.
Lady from the Back: There is no way we can use this bus to get to Francistown, it will breakdown on the way again. We should just abandon it!
Driver: Ladies and gentlemen, give us time to fix the problem. Just because an elderly woman is severely sick and on pills doesn’t mean we should abandon and kill her. The same applies for this bus.
Lady from Back: Time? We don’t have time, refund us so that we can get another bus.
Dreadlock Bus Fixer; The transport laws say that you have to wait for 2-3 hours before refunds can be made. Just follow the law.
Leather cap: Fellow commuters, go out and buy plenty of food and water for our long journey to Francistown. We will be making many stops to give our bus chances to rest.
Transport Officer: (Announcing to commuters) The bus will not be able to continue its journey. Had they repaired the problem with a pipe instead of putting a rubber band I would say it could arrive, but since they didn’t I am afraid for your safety by letting it go.
Leather Jacket Man: (Charging at Officer) Do you have a car? Don’t you know how they patch things there and there to arrive? There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this bus beyond the diesel not pumping properly into the engine. We can improvise. It is like using ladies’ stockings to fix the fan-belt.
Man in Brown T-shirt: This is our bus, and we are not going anywhere.
Attempts to pump the bus’ heart to life bore no fruit and resulted in passengers catching other buses despite their attempts to ride the fast humping yet no stamina bus.