The recent article by Allan Brian Ssenyonga, “We can do better to manage city traffic” (The New Times, March 15), has reminded me what I have always wanted to say about traffic in City of Kigali.
I agree with some of the ideas Mr. Ssenyonga put across, but not all. I agree that traffic light synchronisation seems to be an issue here, but disagree on where he suggests that the solution to resolve the traffic issue is for parents to pool cars for taking their children to school.
Kigali is still lucky that its traffic jams have not reached the proportions of Kampala, Nairobi or Dar es Salam. Actually Kigali is not supposed to have traffic jams at all at this time as the vehicles are still not that many.
What Kigali has are relatively bad drivers in the following sense;
Those who drive in the middle of lanes to block other cars from passing either side, or those who come and squeeze between lanes when cars have slowed down due to a slight jam.
The two lanes that we have end up being three, then four until one fails to know how many lanes we have, yet these roads are meant for only two lanes. Those are the people who cause unnecessary jam.
There’s also that issue of drivers who are not cautious at all. Many drivers will quickly fill any available space in order not to allow anyone wanting to join the road from a side road.
This prompts the side road driver to force himself in the middle of the road, thereby blocking everyone else from both sides.
Is it impossible for us to be courteous to other drivers? When one stops to give pedestrians way at zebra crossings, hooters start blaring behind you like vuvuzelas. Some drivers even overtake at an awkward speed and at awkward places only to move 10 metres and then park the car. These are the ones creating jams.
And, finally, the drivers who violate traffic lights simply because there is no traffic police officer in sight. I have seen this nearly everywhere in Kigali. The presence of the traffic police officers is good and helpful but we are abusing this service.
We are getting used to the fact that there must be a police officer at a traffic light even if it is functional. I wish we had a TV programme like the one in Kenya where they name and shame traffic offenders.
I can go on and on about examples of bad behaviour that creates jams. Obey traffic rules and traffic would definitely flow. Take examples of Kisimenti-Remera road and the stretch between University of Rwanda (former KIE) and Kimironko Taxi Park.
Please avoid these places especially between 6pm and 9pm and especially, on Friday evenings, because they are chaotic. Why are these two spots chaotic? Driver behaviour and not many vehicles, is the problem.
One other observation though that seems interesting about traffic lights is that the one at Giporoso which seems to be working an average of one day in two months, creates more traffic confusion when it works but traffic is faster when it is not working. This could be a puzzle that our engineers have delayed to solve.
So, I would like to tell Mr. Ssenyonga that the jam in Kigali is mostly self-created.