Donning a green reflector jacket and with two road signs in his hands, the man’s face is familiar to motorists, pedestrians and schoolchildren in Free Area on the busy Nairobi-Nakuru highway.
At first, many people mistake him for a traffic police officer but when they draw nearer, they discover that he is a civilian who has dedicated his life to helping schoolchildren cross the road.
Mr Daniel Jumba’s day starts at 6am as learners head out to school and ends at 6.30pm.
The former security guard said he was inspired to become a lollipop man after witnessing a rude and careless driver who refused to stop his vehicle to allow children to cross a road. He says the learners had been stranded for more than 10 minutes.
He wants to help curb road carnage, especially crashes that involve children, many of whom have died or been maimed by negligent motorists.
“I decided to help these innocent children to cross the highway to access their school and return home safely. We have rude drivers on our roads who can’t even stop to allow a child to cross. This has increased road accidents,” he said.
Doesn’t get paid
He estimates that he helps more than 500 children from Kiratina and Free Area and its environs to cross the dual carriageway daily.
Children attending Madaraka and Lion Hill primary schools normally meet in a central place, where they find Mr Jumba.
But not everyone appreciated his work, for which he doesn’t get paid. Some drivers and even some of his friends ridiculed him and others hurled insults.
He said that some people perceived him as insane, telling him that he was doing the work of police officers.
He previously used a makeshift road sign before the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) donated a standard one in appreciation of his good work.
While his start was inauspicious, he said, the community slowly got used to seeing him on the road.
“It was hard at first as drivers would just insult me when I stopped them. They always thought I was wasting their time, but that did not stop me from doing what I knew was good. All I wanted from the start was to save the lives of our innocent children,” he said.
Mr Jumba balances his volunteer crossing guard duties with his painting job so as to earn a living and support his family.
The father of four said he resorted to painting after losing his security guard job at a company in Nakuru town because of the Covid-19 pandemic.