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Let prioritise reform of our city road network

KGOSIETSILE NGAKAAGAE
The BTV circle is a nightmare especially on month ends, Fridays and on the days just before public holidays. Gaborone becomes virtually unnavigable, thanks to our outdated city road infrastructure.

The tragedy with our roads system is this; just one freak accident on any one of the circles and the city comes to a near complete halt. It can take a full hour, perhaps even more, just to move between the Bull and Bush flyover to the BTV circle. In the process less patient drivers get anxious, leading to an even higher risk of accidents. If somehow you make it to the BTV circle, and you are heading on in the direction of Mogoditshane, you will likely have a good run but only until Pula Spar. And then it will be another thirty minutes before you join Molepolole road because there are one hundred and twenty four way stops along that small stretch of road and every driver must find their space.  Only the guys in ambulances, the police and BDF guys are spared. They just blow up the sirens and flash the lights sending us all into even more distress. And then they smile all the way to their emergencies or girlfriends, whichever one would be applicable.

It cannot be healthy for the economy. I wonder why it is taking so long for the circles to be removed completely and replaced with proper road traffic solution. Sadly, instead of removing the useless circles, the Council has handed same over to the Prisons people to decorate with weird horses and pigmy moulds in father Christmas outfits.

The BTV circle is not the only problem. All the traffic circles along the Western-Bypass are a menace. Add the fact that there is no ready speedy response to clearing the roads of vehicles that have run out of petrol. Traffic will be building up for miles as a Vara Phaa guy stands on the central reservation asking his friends who has a jerry can. When he finally secures one, he would spend another hour asking them who has P20 for petrol. And of course it would take them another hour to reach him. You are only lucky if you are rushing for an air Botswana flight because you will find it still there, rescheduled or delayed by twenty seven hours. And watch out for the depression at the Airport Junction traffic lights. You may get airborne before you get airborne.

The transport minister should do something about our city road infrastructure. Just yesterday evening, it took an hour to clear the small stretch between the Bull and Bush Traffic Lights and BTV. No wonder Vara Phaaa guys run out of petrol and the Mogoditshane “Things Fall Aparts”, expire on the roads.

I do not suggest that

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traffic lights would bring an instant end to our road traffic problems. That would be an uninformed and simplistic non solution. I have seen traffic build up extremely badly at the Orapa House Traffic lights and elsewhere. I am simply saying that the Western bay-pass is no longer a western bypass. It is in the middle of the city. Instead of being a bypass, it has become a traffic reservoir of sorts frustrating every move to get in or out of Gaborone on busy days and at peak hours. I am saying that we need to have a whole some look at our city road networks to ensure that same are up to world standards and that the same facilitate the speed of movement that business and the economy requires. Right now I don’t think they are helping. And please don’t tell me there is no money. Government spent Fifty Million Pula building a prison fence worth twelve million in both supply and labour.

I am well aware that there is some piece of paper somewhere laying out a vision for Gaborone’s road network infrastructure. The document is likely older than my fourteen year old daughter. I can’t recall when first I heard about it but it was a long time ago. Cyclists were excited that they would finally be catered for.  I was excited too. I could imagine myself going to court on a bike with my black gown in the wind.  I have seen folks in Europe dressed in fancy suits going to work on bikes in the morning. Batswana would spend less on petrol and have more disposable income. Government messengers would cease to transport mail on SUVs and we would all dump our expensive, pretentious lifestyles. We would healthier with cycling and the exercise benefits it brings. Children would cycle to school and parents wont have to pay so much. Cycling may even pick up as a sport as more people take to doing it. The bicycle selling and repair industry will grow, more people will be employed and we may even end up making our own bicycles. I was in a US city months back and moving about is easy, thanks to bike rental businesses fund in almost every major parking bay.  Reform of the road network infrastructure will unlock a whole lot more benefits to the economy and to health and we need to take a close look at it. Engineers will be better positioned to tell us what exactly should be done. We can surely do better as a city.



Chief On Friday

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