For five weeks they had been stopping the traffic. No one was allowed to pass (well, some were, sometimes) so there were traffic signs, roadblocks ánd police officers. Until Tuesday morning. Then, to the amazement of many drivers, the police were waving, whistling and directing all those cars and motos to go there where they hadn’t been allowed to go for all those weeks: to the roundabout in front of the new building, inaugurated at the African Union summit, the new Convention Center. Not to take the small streets around it. Not to drive into the surrounding area to turn and drive around the bloccades. No traffic jam because the thoroughfare was closed. Well, that last part didn’t completely succeed. That traffic jam was still there, because the drivers didn’t understand it and did what they always do in such a case: stop until they do understand it. And when they do, start driving without looking if someone else is driving there.
Besides, that roundabout in front of the Convention Center is not a roundabout anymore. Or maybe better: it ís still a roundabout, but not in use as one anymore. In front of that beautiful new Convention Center you wouldn’t want cars driving by, so that side of the roundabout is closed and will remain closed. Government here has a simple solution: the other side of the roundabout has been enlarged to twice its former size (two times two lanes now, it was a busy road), and that side now handles traffic in two directions. Easy, isn’t it?
Hmm, that’s not counting in Rwandese driving habits. Because the new route takes two extra, new roundabouts (built in three weekends, where can they do that?), it is a bit longer than the old direct one. Car drivers, but especially moto drivers, don’t like that. There is an alternative. Through winding streets too small for a lot of traffic, over dirt roads with many lorries destined for building sites, but yes, around 100 metres shorter. So that’s what we take, all together… that it takes much longer because you can’t really drive there, doesn’t matter.
Ok, Rwandans know how to drive, the know the traffic rules, they have a driving license, but that last bit, traffic insight, they might develop a bit more.