Transport of goods in the airport is a complex operation that does not tolerate theft.
In my short life on God’s earth, I’ve heard some pretty tall tales, but one from my new neighbour might be reaching for the heavens.
According to Daniel Siva (he prefers Dee, by the way), his last job is the reason he’s hulking in our small village.
“I used to work as a driver for this Indian fella up in the city,” Dee says. “In Westlands.”
“Westlands? That’s where Westgate is, isn’t it?” It’s the only thing I know about the place.
“Yap. The very same. My boss had a big warehouse filled with flowers trucked in from Naivasha. You know what my job was? Every Wednesday, I’d pick up a consignment of flowers, drive it to the airport, and drive the lorry back to Westlands. That’s it. Four days a month, 40 grand every month.”
I whistle in astonishment. “That’s what — 10 grand a trip?”
“Best job I ever had. But it was kind of weird.”
The way Dee tells it, he would arrive at the warehouse and report to a cafeteria within the property, where awaited a free cup of tea and his choice of accompaniment.
“Fifteen years I worked there, never witnessed them loading the lorry,” Dee says.
The lorry would be locked up and Daniel handed the keys. He would drive to the airport, back the lorry onto a loading dock, hand over the keys and head over to another cafeteria at the airport, where brunch awaited him.
“Really good food at the airport. I had an open menu; anything I wanted. And I wasn’t alone. I got to know a few other drivers who did the same but worked for other companies. Tea, drive to airport, lunch, drive back.”
“And none were present as the lorry was loaded or unloaded?” I ask.
“Why all the cloak-and-dagger stuff?”
“I did ask one time. Met one of the loaders outside work and we got talking. Know what he told me? Theft prevention. Apparently, the cargo was too valuable to be trusted to just about any Tom, Dick and Harry.”
It made sense since the locks on the cargo container had seals on them, and the unloaders at the airport would know if the seals were interfered with.
“Fifteen years I ferried loads I couldn’t see. But I’m only human, right?”
I shrug. “I guess.”
“One of the drivers was fired for a fault on one of the seals. That’s when I realised I, too, was a mistake away from being fired. So one day, I decided I’d see what the hullabaloo was all about. I bought me a pair of bolt cutters and reported to work as usual. Instead of driving to the airport, I drove to Machakos.”
There, Dee popped open the locks on the back of the lorry.
“What did you find?” I ask, agog.
“Boxes. The lorry is full of boxes. I remove one box, check inside. You know what I find? Flowers.”
“I open another box. Flowers. Same with the third.”
“Oh, boy.” I laugh. “You messed up your job for nothing.”
“I thought so, too. At this point I’m mad, right? In anger, I hurl the box to the ground. It bursts apart and I stand there staring in shock.”
“Only the top half of the box contained flowers. In the bottom half was more money than I’d ever seen. Shillings, dollars, euros, deutschmarks, other currencies I didn’t know.”
“Don’t tell me…”
“Yap. The same with every single box in the lorry.”
“What did you do?”
“What else? I drove the lorry and hid in a forest.”
- I am a young Kenyan interested in new media and dissemination of news and information as it unfolds.
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