March 02, 2006

The Rules of the Road, Addis Ababa

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I love driving in Addis. It's like the Wild West here. Granted, I'm not particularly amused by the indifference drivers show towards pedestrians, or for that matter, the indifference pedestrians show towards drivers (how smart is that?), but driving here is quite enjoyable for someone who comes from a background where he was terrified at the prospect of being pulled over and ticketed.

Yesterday, I observed one of my favorite traffic infractions while on my way to work - driving up the wrong side of traffic in order to avoid having to wait for traffic to move in the current lane. Think of fish swimming up stream. Yesterday's observation took place at a turn from the main road where traffic was blocked up for at least three hundred meters. Rather than wait to get to the intersection, which would have required waiting 3-4 lights, while numerous beggars plied their trade, a handful of cars were leaving the main road and driving up the opposite lanes of traffic to access the service road maybe 50 meters ahead.

A bit illegal, yes, but highly practical.

My all-time favorite, though, is the inching out into oncoming traffic that so many drivers undertake in order to complete their turns. Drivers inch forward, stopping traffic in one lane, and continuing as such to the next lane until the turn can be completed. Again, probably illegal, but absolutely necessary if you hope to get anywhere in Addis.


Blogger Tobian said...

I see you've gone nuts in the process ... :-)

11:33 PM  

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