Like many of u, I’m an ambidextrous driver – left-hand drive, right-hand drive – I’m okay on both sides of the road! I’ve had several driving moments around the world, as have most of us, but let me tell u a bit about drivin’nLiberia, or as this post is called – ‘Drive-time Monrovia’
Peak-hour drive-time Monrovia is not really about fear or terror, rather it is a test of resilience, determination, and who has the biggest vehicle! It is a stress-generator and a stress-indicator – not to be attempted by anyone with road-rage tendencies! There are no traffic lights to annoy you, but don’t be fooled – more insidious frustrations lurk!
You have to stay on hi-alert becoz anything might pop up unexpectedly in front of you at any moment from any side – yellow taxis, motor-cycles, large over-loaded trucks, pedestrians, women carrying carefully balanced goods on their heads, school-kidz in crisp uniforms, wheel-barrel boys… But as you are rarely able to go faster than 20 kph (i’m dreaming – more like 5 kph!) there’s usually time to take evasive action! The road-rules are quite simple – stick to the paved road if there is one, don’t hit living objects, obey the police if you can understand their gesticulations, and feel free to over-take from any side you prefer – Monrovian drivers are ambidextrous too it seems!
There are only 2 main roads in and out of Monrovia, which is convenient once u r pointed in the right direction! Of these 2 feeder roads one has 2 lanes each side, and the one (my side of town) is pretty much only 1 lane for half of the journey. However, this concept of ‘lanes’ should not restrict any driver from being creative and inventing a new lane where needed so long as it is out of the eyesight of police. The traffic police, by the way, are pretty much pedestrian, in that they don’t jump on their bike or into their car and chase you…instead they’ll stare at you, gesture, and shout if needed, but that’s about it.
I spend over an hour to get to work and another hour to get back home, so I want to give u my best advice for survivin’ drive-time Monrovia…
Just think SLOW, interminably slow, and remember that woteva lane u get in, the other lane will always go faster than yours, until u force your way into that lane, and then u find yourself going even SLOWER than u were in the original lane, so then u consider your chances and force your way back into the other lane, 6 cars back from where you were before…and then watch in exasperation as the car u were just sitting behind in the other lane moves ahead, and if u’d stayed where u were u’d be, well, at least 10 vehicle lengths ahead!! gggrrrrrr!! So u change lanes again becoz u just can’t go any SLOWER in this one! No…wrong again, another 5 cars back from where u could’ve been. It does sometimes feel like u r moving in reverse!
So the best advice i can give is that u should approach drive-time Monrovia like an investor who owns shares and a recession is coming – don’t consolidate your loss by selling out or changing lanes – take responsibility for your decisions, stay the course, choose your lane and stick with it! After all, the slogan on some taxis says it all, you will get where u want to be ‘In God time’.
Til we meet again, I’m going to keep honing my creative-driving skills…
Stay safe – and stay the heck out of my lane!!!
See if the new fotos in Flickr are accessible to you with the link on the right – or if not try this link to see the folder of Liberia fotos. http://www.flickr.com/photos/fayzfotos