Mmegi Blogs :: The new bridge at Ramotswa
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Thursday 14 December 2017, 18:15 pm.
The new bridge at Ramotswa

It cost a load, but it will presumably do the job it is required to do - so where’s the problem? Especially as this bridge, as with so many others in this country, can only be seen by those who go down to the river bed or flood plain to have a look.
By Sandy Grant Wed 21 Dec 2016, 22:59 pm (GMT +2)
Mmegi Blogs :: The new bridge at Ramotswa

And how many of us do that? In other words, it really doesn’t matter what a bridge looks like so long as it does its job. Can any one argue with that? My problem is that I like bridges, that is bridges which make you feel proud, which brighten your day and look good whilst doing their required  job.

I had great hopes that the new Odi bridge would be elegant and prize winning. All I got was the replacement of one set of culverts by another. Disappointed there, I had great hopes that the new border bridge at Ramotswa would prove to be a real beauty.

Indeed a couple of visits to have a look during its construction were fairly promising.  So this past weekend we went to check on the final product. Oh dear, what a huge disappointment it proved to be.

Okay, it will undoubtedly do the job. But for anyone who wants to see a bridge with pleasing lines and a degree of elegance, this one is well worth a miss. It is utilitarian, solid, chunky, bland, virtually characterless. But because it cost an absolute fortune, some of us will wonder why the government was unable to require the contracting company to come up with a design that was pleasing to the eye?

Why would it cost more to design an elegant bridge than an ugly one? 


All forms of construction can be well designed. I have long admired the clean lines of the Gaborone Dam wall, for instance and as far as bridges are concerned, the Thune River bridge is admirable, just the job.

But by and large, however, we seem to have either lost the knack or been disinterested. It was noticeable, for instance, that despite the extended run up to the anniversary, there was no attempt to survey the contribution that architecture and civil engineering had made in the 50 year period.

Was their job merely to add one new ugly building or structure to those that already existed? My personal award for the ugliest possible building must go to the passenger station which replaced the earlier, period version.

But then anyone interested in architectural ugliness has only to have a peep at any of the new shopping malls to know that they need look no further. 

We may well wonder how it has happened that the very handsome traditional towns and traditional homes of the past should have been replaced by so much that is third rate?  Yes, it is indeed a matter of taste.  But it may also be worth noting that what has occurred in these 50 years is the replacement of the indigenous models by those imported from elsewhere. It has been quite a price to have paid.


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