Roadwork and construction cause headaches anywhere in the world, but in Africa in particular, I find that we are in a category all alone.
For the past year, pretty much the entire city of Dakar has been in a vicious battle to extend several of its main roads from one to two lanes or two lanes to four lanes. The chaos and debacle that has ensued has been nothing short of incredible to witness. Not only are things terribly disorganized, but there is a real risk of danger when you drive into one of these zones-renegade cranes, reckless tractors, and the occasional lost crazed horse barreling towards you. These are one of the many forces that one has to reckon with on the roads in the construction areas.
I often feel like I am going into battle when I am forced to take one of these roads. Detours might mean I never come out the other side here. There is no rhyme or reason to the construction and the streets are already cluttered enough with cars, trucks, people, and livestock. It’s enough to make your head spin and I often need a glass of wine post-operation. The work here on the roads is frantic and shoddy at best but for some reason, they still need 50 men to stand around and gaze into a dank hole in the middle of the main road. Throw in a ton of dust, debris, garbage, and mud to top it off and voilà! Welcome to my daily struggle.
As much as I complain, driving here is nothing compared to owning a business on one of these roads. Our local French butcher arrived at his shop one day and was told that he had to MOVE his shop within a couple hours that day. Later that afternoon, they bulldozed the small building where his shop had been. Luckily, he was able to set up shop right behind the original building. However, it was very unsettling for me to drive to the shop and find it totally leveled to the ground. I thought I had gone a bit dotty that morning. Took me a few times of driving back and forth to figure out that they were still there, but just about 20 feet from where they used to be.
My husband has, for years, had the idea of a video game where you have to go through a maze-like African road, obstacles and all. At the end, the prize would be a Phil Collins tape. That was my idea and it has to be a TAPE. Gotta be the one with the “rain” song and all that drumming. Yes, Africans love Phil Collins and I am being cheeky. I think it’s a great idea, but I guess it’s not as fun as gun-toting video games. A video game for the pacifists out there, perhaps?