Date : 12th May, 2017
Bus: KCK 266C Scania P360 OptiCruise
I had missed literally all MBB events and it was majorly because I had not purposed to attend. I wasn’t going to miss this event at Lady Hope Centre.
I called Calvo on Thursday to make sure that I got myself a seat. I wasn’t able to get a VIP seating, they sell like hot cakes. I got a rear seat but knew I would swap with the 2nd shift driver. That’s exactly what I did. I got a call from the office at around 16:45 that my bus was almost leaving. I had just alighted at Kisumu boys because of traffic. Major road repairs around that area. I got to the bus, checked in and decided to take a couple of photos before sizing up our competition. Top on the list, I was very much interested on what Coast Bus had for Kisumu-Mombasa.
The bus left the parking on time but because of the stage design, we had to waste a couple of minutes trying to get to the highway. This plus a late customer set us back by about 20mins. Driver one was Akbar with Manyota as the 2nd driver. It was clear that he was a keen driver. Noted this when he had to execute a 4point manoeuvre and each time he had reverse, he would engage the handbrake. The same for each time he had to move forward from reverse. Looks like he had aced all the lessons at Scania EA. This was good for the bus too but boring and tedious from my view.
Banbros has done a neat job after the mishap, you couldn’t tell. The Interior was untouched. VIP 1 still remains the size of rugby pitch with a 3D view. The bus was very clean both in and outside. We got served with our drinks and I decided to keep mine. Refer to that incident on Bribist at bribist.wordpress.com.
Tahmeed Higer easily took lead and disappeared as we had to drop of one of the office guys along the way. I knew there was a Kanyari with a jetpack strap on with a Coast Bus label somewhere behind us and its intentions would be manifested soon enough.
The P360 has a sweet idle which is nowhere near that of a conventional truck. It had matured well since, or is the difference in driving skills. The spool is more pronounced, and the freno heavier tending towards the roar of a V8 with a straight pipe. The hydraulics are still there with every gear change and every braking. Another thing I noticed, the way it lets off excess air from the pressure tank when parked and idling. Its not a single sneeze as with the other trucks such a s Isuzus, Hino, UD, Actros and the likes. Its more of a gradual freno like release. I got no technical term for this. This one KCK 266C had become more agile and it appeared less bulky. The turbo spool went on and on. I imagined the state of the fins/blades with each touch on the throttle.
At the Muhoroni junction we had to pick a passenger and 615U, the Modern Tulela from Busia flew past us. It was late and must have been eager to make up for the time lost. Our advantage would have been at the steep inclines and the famous Kericho S, then I remembered it had 50 more horses and perhaps a bigger tarubo. We munched the hills less aggressively than I had fantasized. He seemed to respect the speed tables and given they are all over this road, we had to downshift a couple of times. I called Mwamba, the conductor of 615U and I knew they were a case gone gone and goone. More speed tables at Kaitui hence more downshifts. We had more power than we were even trying to use. The bus must have realised this because it settled into a truck roar. Guess who had caught up with us, Mash KCA from Kisumu. A few corners later and we found 615U at the side of the road, pax were buying bananas and pineapples. There was trouble brewing from behind us in form of Mash.
Well it wasn’t just trouble, it was mega anguish for our truck bus. Mash KCA 541D, Ting Badi Malo. At Kapsoit, he pulled a couple of daring kata funuas, we had to adopt a road shoulder to let him in. It became apparent we weren’t going to get to Kericho before him. Being a manual shift with a wide band, I am guessing he had the advantage of stretching his gears and he could downshift. That engine must have been frowning and cursing and wincing in near pain or maybe not. Along the way he met his match in form of a Congolese plated Actros (pulling) and he also had to hug the road shoulder. Pheux they stopped to buy groceries as well. Two threats now. Mash and the Jet fuelled Tri-axle belonging to Coast Bus. If only we could maintain the lead.
I spoke too soon. Modern Coast 615U pulled up alongside us and gave us a gap. He was aggressive and stretched the gap even further. Traffic into Kericho and he was like 8 cars ahead. More speed tables hata nduthi ikatupita. Modern had stopped in Kericho and so had Tahmeed Higer KCK 106A and we once again assumed the lead. It was an anxious lead though.
Haiya, we passed the Kisumu Coast Bus in Kericho, how it got there, please don’t ask. It was now very very clear. We were in trouble. Not just trouble but very deep trouble. Modern KCF 615U that had the power. It passed us just after Kericho tea and disappeared into the night. Then there was Coast Bus KCC 554R and another one from Kakamega KBV 202X. Tahmeed Higer KCK 106A it being a Tecno and then Mash KCA 541D. We briefly managed to overtake Modern.
Anxiety, craned neck, parched throat with my bum hardly resting on my seat. That was my current state at 19:00 somewhere next to some tea blocks. I was peering sideways and even using the side mirrors more than the driver wondering whose casualty we would be first. More speed tables as if that’s what we needed right now. I reclined my seat just a little and trained my eyes on the cockpit throwing furtive glances at the secondary side mirrors.
19:22 and its raining heavily outside. Our speed has reduced and there are passenger complaints that their windows are leaking. Denno heads over to assist. Some had left the upper most windows open hence the problem. There is a bit of mist on the windscreen. We are safe for now. The rain let off and we picked speed and became pawn again. The P360 seemed to breathe more on what appeared to be a boost leak. It is distinct from the whirr of the mega radiator fans. The sound of air escaping only comes in when the throttle is engaged, hence my assumption that we had a boost leak.
19:39 and both threats came to pass. Modern 615U and Mash 541D. They opened a lead that we couldn’t match. I watched as they slowly disappeared into the night. Even the roadblocks couldn’t delay them for us to catch up. Snake lights appeared on the horizon. That was Modern at the Mau Summit interchange. Seemed like we had caught up. We managed to overtake Mash as pax bought more groceries. Now was our chance the more speed tables and we had to decelerate, yawa! Our driver seemed to take every precaution when it came to overtaking and switching of lanes. The Sanchangwan slope offered us some hope as we extended our lead on Mash, Modern was miles ahead.
We got to Salgaa at 20:12 and Akbar’s skill and tact had now come out to play. You could tell by the timed overtakes and subtle bullying tactics. We caught up with 615U. It was now 3 cars ahead. Then ikatoa kichwa na kupotea. It was now 7 cars ahead. It was a frustrating struggle with so much traffic, snail paced shuttles and empty trucks hoping to sleep in Nakuru. Eventually we squeezed past and the road opened. No snake lights anywhere. 615U was gone. I glanced over and noticed we were doing a steady 80Kph on the border of white and green on the rpms. We managed to catch up just as the Dual Carriageway into Nakuru started. We almost got neck to neck then it pulled away. The way that P410 accelerates…… Let it go, just let it go. There was a theory that the P410 being a Choda fab is actually light hence its ability to easily pick pace.
At the Nakuru stop, more photos and I had a chance to move next to 615U. I also met Nixon Blair. Bubbly fella, very friendly. Mash was also next to and so was Modern from Kitale. Executive #3 later joined us and another Mash P360 mkeka #ProudlyKenyan. I got a pack of very delicious fries from Denno. 15 minutes later and everyone started leaving. Mash KCA then us then Modern. Time check 21:05 and we were trailing Mash out of Nakuru. The speed tables weren’t as severe as those before Nakuru.
We met up with a couple of Kampala bound buses among them Simba, Dreamline, Easy Coach, Grand’s Kinglong, Mash Touring and other Mrengos destined for upcountry. It now seemed like everyone had settled into their positions. The sound of boost leak was now louder against the quiet night.
At Gilgil we caught up with Mash then Modern caught up with us. This was not over after all. 22:04 and its locked. Dual lanes headed into the weighbridge. We managed to overtake Modern and embarked on a spirited run past Delamare and into Naivasha. Trucks thinned out from here and it was a huge relief. Mash was far much ahead and Modern was lurking somewhere behind us.
Rain after Naivasha and we caught up with Mash. Our wipers were okay in their positions but hardly did justice to the Mega 3D windscreens. Wipers on local fabs are wanting. This is an area of potential business if well ventured into. Mash fell casualty to our powerhouse on the inclines after Karai. Then as the hills reduced, it zoomed past us then Modern zoomed past us and past Mash in absolute style. It was an MBB affair. Modern, Mash and Dreamline. We momentarily caught up just after the Njabini flyover. Modern disappeared while Mash fell by the wayside. Must have been a pressed passenger or wiper issues. We got in to position two for the time being. Then Mash came from behind and reclaimed their spot. Modern had cemented their lead and Mash was keen on playing second best.
I settled back to enjoy the awesome sounds of the P360. The Freno sounding like a V8 and tiny hisses that accompanied every gear change. 23:15, we were past Limuru. Mash decided to expand the lead through a few kata funuas, some quite daring. Poor visibility as we started on the wall. The wipers tried their best. Just after Kikuyu there was heavy rain, Mash bowed out of the race. We still maintained our speed. On to Kangemi, Sodom and the weather improved again even though it was drizzling. The road surface was different, rough and with mega holes. The suspension did well to cushion us. It was all bouncy, no rattling sounds. Goes to show how durable Banbros’ bodies are. This vehicle tackles Taru every other morning and alternate evenings.
We hit the symbolic bump at Safaricom HQ and I realised my journey was coming to an end. No traffic at this time, no threat anywhere, no company as we got into the seat.
23:55 and we alighted at Ambassadeur Hotel still tense from the experience but glad it was over. I was still excited as I wished Denno and the other pax safe voyage to Mombasa. The bus looked even more stunning under the street lights and I paused to watch it take off.
I enjoyed the Safari very much.
Driving Skills: 8/10 His keenness, skill and tact was impressive.
Time Keeping: 9/10 no time wasted
Crew: 10/10 they operate as a unit.
I didn’t notice the entertainment or bother about wi-fi. I was too preoccupied with the other buses outside and how the machine was.
This report is also available at bribist.wordpress.com
Date : 12th May, 2017