I was talking to some colleagues about the craziness that is traffic here in Mali recently. We were discussing how there are motos, and cars, and trucks, and people, and kids, and animals, and literally everything you can name and think of on the road. We talked about how most Malian drivers are in a hurry to go nowhere fast – and so standard rules do not apply – it’s every man for themselves!
I particularly struggle with motos. They are like speeding bullets of vulnerability that pass you in front, behind, on the left, and the right. The drivers don’t wear helmets and no one does shoulder checks, many don’t have lights and few people know how to/have indicator lights available to them. It’s nuts!
My colleagues said an interesting thing though. He said that Mali’s moto problem is because the Chinese made them buy them. When I asked for clarification he said that they created a moto that was fast, effective, and low cost so everyone bought them in a giant burst that had no planning. I told him I found it hard to believe that Chinese men were coming taking Malians b the hand to the Jakarta (the brand of moto) store, taking the Malians wallet out of their pocket and forcing them to buy a moto. He laughed, and I silently understood his point. Life is hard and before the Jakarta; people didn’t have access to a lot of transport, now they do, so they’ve exploded! It reinforces my point about the international community’s idea of progress in an underdeveloped country (read my last post “Stuck in the Middle”). It also just makes everyday driving really difficult and chaotic. But most Malians take this driving in stride and smile through it all as they have made peace with the chaos. So I guess I should too – or stay off the road!