Following the coming into force of new school and official working hours at the start of the New Year, traffic jams, especially during morning hours have significantly increased, with many Kigalians and commuters from satellite cities lamenting about the duration of time they spend on the road. Last year, the government took a decision to adjust the time employees report to work from 7a.m to 8a.m, but with a flexible hour between 8a.m and 9a.m during which people can work remotely. School hours were also adjusted, with classes now starting at 8:30a.m, instead of the previous 7a.m. Almost one month on, many have adjusted to the changes and are enjoying the benefits that come with the extra time they have in the morning. The government said the change of working and school hours would promote quality education as well as improve both workplace productivity and family wellbeing. However, many did not see the challenge of traffic congestion worsening as a result. Nadia Umurerwa, who used to leave her home in Kimironko in Gasabo District at around 6:20a.m, and drop off children to school by 6:40a.m before heading to work in downtown Kigali, says she now spends more time on the road than before. “Definitely we now have more time to rest in the morning but I now spend more time on the road, which in a way is a downside of what was otherwise a good decision,” she says. Several locations in the city experience more traffic jams both in the morning and in the evening, including Giporoso, Gisimenti, mu Kabuga ka Nyarutarama, Kimironko and Kicukiro-Rwandex, among others. Traffic police normally gets busier during these peak hours, directing and ensuring that traffic moves smoothly, to avoid gridlocks which can possibly frustrate those heading to work or school. SSP René Irere, the Spokesperson for Traffic and Road Safety at Rwanda National Police, says there has been an upsurge in traffic since the beginning of the year but it is something they had anticipated. “We’re aware about the issue of the traffic jam and we were prepared before the implementation of the new working hours, that’s why we had to increase traffic personnel so that we can be able to control traffic flow,” Irere said in an interview. “We advise road users to always plan their journeys ahead of time to avoid traffic congestion. The early morning and late afternoon hours are the worst traffic times in most areas, because that is when most people are on the road commuting to and from work or school,” he added. SSP Irere advised people to leave home just a little bit earlier, especially if they live in an area that is constantly prone to traffic jams, so that they are able to reach their destination without having to encounter traffic jams. “We encourage road users to also use routes that are clearer instead of using the ones that are busy to avoid traffic congestion,” he added. Nothing ruins an otherwise perfect day like getting stuck in a traffic jam but by planning your journey ahead and embarking on it early enough, you can actually avoid getting stuck in traffic. Below are some tips which can help you beat traffic jam: Rise early Waking up and leaving home early is the magical trick to beat traffic snarl-ups, because you’ll be ahead of most road users. Now with a window of one to two extra hours to be at the office or school, it is possible to leave home early and reach your destination well before 8:30a.m or 9a.m. By waking up early and perhaps leaving office on time, you avoid the worst traffic times in most locations, because that is when most people are on the road commuting to and from work/school. If possible, avoid driving during these times. Leaving just a little bit earlier or later (during evening hours) can help you stay clear of tailgating traffic or at least avoid finding yourself in the most congested of places. It will also help you save fuel during these not-so-easy economic times. Use alternate routes If you live in or around Kigali and know the city well, there is always an alternative route everywhere you look. Yet, most people somehow stick to the main roads even if they know that they are a red flag for traffic jams because everyone seems to be using the main road. The government has constructed many connecting and alternative routes around the city which you can use to beat traffic. By more people using the alternative routes, we can ensure that even the main roads are not congested. For instance, you can leave Kimironko and get to the Central Business District mostly without using the main roads and the journey gets shorter. Depending on the time you set off, check whether you need to use alternative routes or not. It will save you a lot. Make GPS your friend Most people may not know this but Rwanda is among few African countries with the most efficient road systems, with most roads clearly marked with names and coordinates. This means that it is easy to use GPS to know which roads to use at what time. Many GPS systems have built-in traffic flow monitoring and they can alert you when a route is affected by a traffic jam. Some can even automatically change your route to a clearer one. Check the instructions for your model to see what capabilities it has, and how to set up the traffic monitoring features. Yes, in countries where road markings are not clear, chances of being misled by GPS are high, but not in Rwanda. Chances are that whatever your GPS or traffic app tells you is correct and will help you navigate traffic. Traffic apps may have special features like real time camera feeds to view traffic conditions, or social features to help you connect with other drivers and learn about various routes. Use other means It might be the most unpopular option but using other means of transport is another option to beat jam. A motorcycle, a bicycle or even public means, where possible. If you don’t have to drop off a child to school or someone to work, you can definitely consider this as an option. If many people can do that, it means there will be fewer cars on the road. And that comes with a bonus of knowing that you’re potentially contributing to green mobility too.