SOMETIMES I feel like I should just park and walk; because with the level of traffic jams and nasty competitive behaviours that currently exist on our roads, it is no more fun to drive on the roads. Psychologists also tell us that stress levels are much higher in high traffic cities than low traffic cities. Soon we’ll be having stress-related cases caused by car congestion in Dar.
Obviously drivers have been left to decide on their own traffic rules. Unfortunately none seem to be considerate of others. Nobody cares for others. We’ve gone back to the uncivilized times when everybody was a king to himself; and whatever the king decides, that he does. Psychology teaches that in mental development stages of a child, there’s a stage when a child’s mind is dominated by greed and selfishness, at which stage a child wants to have everything (every toy) – those which belong to her and all others that belong to other kids as well.
Sometimes I feel like most drivers are on a similar stage of driving development, in which case every driver wants to be the first and possibly alone on roads; even when the driver has no right of way. I’ve, personally, managed to escape the morning traffic jams, not only because it’s increasingly becoming unbearable and have no way to account for the lost hours on roads, but also avoided a lot more by being alone on roads in the early hours of 4:00 to 4:30 am. I escape a lot of nasty gestures and comments. I have witnessed a shocking magnitude of road rage during busy hours and do not want to witness such things regularly.
If you decide to be a spectator of what goes on, on our roads, you will be shocked. Drivers just take their cars with them to the roads, but abandon common sense and consideration. It normally looks like every vehicle is on a police chase: every driver wants to be the first; every driver wants others to wait or drive the way they feel and want to monitor every other vehicle operation. Drivers would sometime drive along 30 stationary vehicles (on the pedestrian track) to just end up blocking all other vehicles in the event of an on-coming traffic because all one thinks about is oneself.
Every driver feels like he or she is a better qualified driver! They feel like they possess full rights of way, most of them trying to avoid as many rules as possible. Running the red lights in Dar is not a big deal. This is most common at the junction of A.H Mwinyi/Shekilango roads; Morocco/Kinondoni roads and many others.
Taking a short-cut by keeping right on the keep-left round-abouts is okay in Bongo. You can see this for yourself when coming from Africana to White Sands Hotel where there is a round-about which people never care about. Off-loading by passenger vehicles on impossible spots is usual. Go at the Muhimbili round-about and you’ll share my frustration.
Stopping in the middle of the road is normal too; after all it’s a daladala bus or a taxi-cab and the driver has to get the day’s pay. Actually you will be surprised to see people reversing on busy highways. Turning without signals is not a big problem at all. After all, even by indicating your signals, someone may still overtake you right on your turning side.
In other cities when someone wants to change lanes on a multiple lanes highway, once one indicates, the driver behind him/her will slow down to give way for the other driver to change lanes quickly. In Dar, don’t you dare, because once you indicate your signals of changing lanes, the driver behind you will accelerate very fast trying to make sure that you don’t move to the lane and be in his/her front. So what you do? Just “chomekea!”
I have seen strange things on our roads lately. I met this guy doing almost 80 km an hour towards the opposed direction along the one-way Samora Avenue! People claim that it’s due to the big number of vehicles that we have traffic jams. I say they are wrong: it’s negligence and incompetence and more commonly drivers’ competitive behavior. Tanzania has less than 500,000 vehicles in total; probably less than 200,000 in Dar alone. This is a ratio of 1:100 (1 vehicle per 100 persons),which is far below most cities (some going up to 1:4) in the world.
I once commended Kombe for adding the number of traffic police officers on our roads but I also cautioned that it’s one thing having a “million” officers on the roads and completely another thing having the officers to actually work and bring an impact. We want to enjoy our high-tech driving and have fun sir. We pay taxes and deserve better services, one of the basics being safer roads. A good number of what we encounter on roads can be done away with.
On a more serious note sir; let’s be serious commander Kombe. Let’s implement the traffic rules more strictly. We’re sick and tired of the high death toll due to car crashes caused by reckless drivers. We have lost too many lives on our roads. I don’t think we can afford any more reckless deaths. Vehicles should be a good means of transport for civilized people, not dangerous weapons.
Just get all the fools out of our roads and we’ll be safe. About a third of our drivers do not possess driver’s licence. Get them out. A good number are under-age kids; get them out too. Most others have committed major traffic violations that qualify them to be stripped off their privilege to drive. Just get them out!