Traffic as a Metaphor for Orderly Society

In Ethiopia, with the new constructions of roads and highways, the face of the transport system is changing. But compared to the highly organized and strict streets of Brussels it still has a long way to go. When it comes to timeliness of transport services the country is lagging behind. The advancement of technology has also helped the transport systems. Also in Brussels, the concept of pedestrian crossing lines is adhered to at all times without fail.

There are over 1.2 million private and company vehicles operating on the streets of Brussels and the surrounding suburban towns. The main transporters serving the public at large are trams or light trains like the one in Addis Abeba. What makes Brussels different is perhaps the fact that because of its location on the sphere almost half of the year it experiences longer nights. This has an impact on the lighting system. Brussels uses 35pc of its energy from nuclear source.

There is currently a two-hour time difference between Ethiopia and Brussels. The impact will be that the working hours of the day begin while it is still dark in Brussels. Vehicles, motor bikes or cycles use three levels of lights laminating very brightly at this time. My driver Abdellatif comes home to pick me up for the drive of about 10kms up to the premises of the well know St. Luc Hospital for the three days four-hours-long dialysis. I must emphasize the fact that there are different types of load bearing or heavy duty freight carrying vehicles. All these modalities use their lights regardless of the fact that there are traffic lights synchronized with the usage of the load factor and the speed permitted. In many cases tramways are also usable by private vehicles or city buses up to a certain point.

But what is strictly observed anywhere and at any time is adherence to pausing at zebra lines to give priority to pedestrian to cross. Otherwise pedestrians are rarely seen except at market places. They have no choice but to walk on foot in order to stroll door to door in search of goods and merchandize they would like to purchase.

Strict adherence to stop at zebra lines giving priorities for pedestrians whether it is in the dead hours of the rnight or in broad day light is the first effective measure to ensure safety of both drivers and pedestrians.

The other important safety ensuring method is marking the all the roads with white lines. If it is lined with broken white lines it means vehicles can overtake the ones in front by zig-zagging past vehicles within the speed limit. Unbroken lines are never to be crossed anywhere and at any time. Nobody is supposed to sit in any vehicle without fastening their safety belt.

By the way, the driving license test in the capital is one of the most difficult tests to pass. There are private teaching agents which are very expensive and the final testing are done by two or three companies. The Rapid Road Test is a must. That one is really scary. Passing those tests after all these steps is an accomplishment for the driver.

My driver being a Muslim by faith, does not drink any alcohol of any type. The breath test or balloon respiration does not worry him. His company has also other vehicles for rent.

Many households own at least two vehicles of a single or double door type. The tax varies in accordance to the number of doors. Usually, four door vehicles are charged more tax. Families with children who go to school often buy one vehicle with four doors even if they have to pay a little more tax.

The idea is to encourage people to park their vehicles somewhere and use the public transport system such as buses or light weight trains. One more thing I have to share is the precision of the arrival and departure time at bus stops exacting down to the minute if not the second. By the way, each bus stop or tram stop has a light signal that tells the time of the next bus or tram arrival so that passengers can know beforehand at what time the next city bus is due to arrive. In case the service is not on-time to the minute one has the right to report to the company that runs them.

As far as the other modality or the big railway line is concerned there are two types. The TGV or the fast train that runs with a speed of over 320kms per hour with limited stops. It crosses the whole European continent. For example there is a bullet shaped train that almost flies like a bullet with an impressive speed.

One never hears any sound of a car horn except the engines of low gear driving trucks. Stopovers for the high-speed trains are in the big cities such as Detmonde. This is because of the German Bundesliga football club where important matches are held occasionally. In England too towns like the city of Manchester which is about 120 miles north of London, there is a train stop. By the way the well-known Manchester United Football Club is just across the road from the train stop.

CCTV Cameras too are installed everywhere, even in big buildings, to help take photos of what is going on like which vehicle violates the traffic light signals and so on. What Ethiopia lacks, I believe is the absence of road rules and lines.

By comparison there are tendencies of branding either drivers, licensing companies or agencies or the growing number of vehicles rolling on the streets as the problems. But those are not the only factors attributable. A lot of vehicles are being savaged. There is a lot that can be done on the infrastructure itself to safeguard accidents in these regards.

By Girma Feyissa

Published on Feb 13,2017 [ Vol 17 ,No 876]



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