Hey Nairobi, Science Says Crazy 21st Century Traffic Jams Cause Depression and Burnout The World Over; Who’s to Blame?
Last updated on March 29th, 2017 at 07:11 pm
mass transport of city residents is a challenge that every generation of urban planners perennially has to contend with. City gridlocks are a rising concern this 21st century as with incomes rising globally and progressive urbanization, the adverse effects of traffic jams such as depression, burn out and loss of man hours exponentially rise.
Finding more sustainable ways of mass transportation of future urban dwellers would contribute towards a green future. Some might argue that such traffic jams of the bumper to- bumper variety are an affront not only to the economic but the also the social and health well-being of the people.
Moreover, just like a pea is similar to the next, the phenotype of the traffic situation of every world city expresses itself in subtle yet richly diverse experiences. Understanding the anatomy of your typical traffic jam might illuminate solution to this menace.
Here are 10 things I noted when caught in traffic on in particularly horrid traffic snarl up in Nairobi: My home city, Kenyan capital and economic San-atrial node of East and Central Africa.
10. Surprisingly, the Key obsession of City residents is buying a Car
This means more cars on the already crowded roads! It appears the goal here is not to get home or to work faster courtesy of the investment in a ‘new’ (refurnished and increasingly luxurious) Japanese model or the German top of the range automobiles that make the ladies twitter, but rather the motivating need is making the traffic situation more bearable for the individual by pampering themselves with frills like in car climate control and surround car radio systems.
It makes much more sense for many city residents to labor towards purchasing a car as the often unreliable means of public transportation make owning a car to be a means of satisfying most if not all of Marslow’s needs.
9.The Phenomenon that Fm radio stations are
Drive shows in some of the Fm stations start out as early as 2pm and stretch out to just before Cinderella’s hour. The same can be said of equally popular morning drive shows as some of the residents residing in the outer regions of the greater City area have to start their day at 4 am if they are to make it to work by 8 am.
Though the competition among the radio stations is fierce, exemplified by poaching of popular show hosts amongst the stations, the audience is huge:
From the car radios in thousands of public transport vehicles ferrying tens of thousands of the city’s workforce to the various areas of commerce; to the ever expanding middle class with money to spare on cheaper refurbished cars from Dubai, Singapore, Japan , Indonesia and other free trade areas; to the majority walking poor of the city listening in on portable Fm radio receivers, Fm enabled mobile phones and hand-held radios.
Stephen Marley – The Traffic Jam ft. Damian Marley
8.The rich market that traffic jams are
You will find enterprising individuals vending a variety of merchandise ranging from locally sourced fresh fruits to toys shipped in from China.
Big business not to be left behind spend millions of dollars on gigantic billboards.
It is also not uncommon for big business to carry out product awareness campaigns- there is readily available youthful and educated labor courtesy of the rising literacy levels and high levels of urban to rural migration – to carry out product campaigns.
This is possible because there is plenty of time for businesses to make contact with potential customers before the long queue of jalopies snakes its way home in and out of the cities (especially at peak times).
7.Just like malfunctioning I-phones, traffic jams make people late
Probably out of habit rather than actual happenings. By the going of things, it appears that in a growing city like mine, traffic is always an option as an excuse when running late.
An expanding economy coupled with infrastructure projects which though at an all time high seem not to be coming fast enough, has had its impact on the 15-minute waiting rule: The traffic excuse has been peddled around so much -even by the leaders of the land- it has become acceptable part of urban talk.
As it goes, most will expect you to get the picture when they offer traffic as an excuse to their running late. Including even those who punctuality is alien: The type who would be late even to their own funeral.
6.Traffic jams make drivers hate pedestrians
The right to the road is granted to pedestrians at zebra crossings as stipulated by city by laws. However, it is recommended that when crossing, the pedestrian looks straight a head as not many sitting impatiently behind the wheels would be keen to return your smile: Who would blame these otherwise friendly and warm people, who welcome visitors to their land with the Swahili saying Hakuna matata Kenya (no worries in Kenya)?
As you might know, traffic often brings out the worst even in the coolest of us. Besides, by all regards, this is the city and just like in any city, time is money.
5.Traffic jams: A boon for relationships ?
Trouble is that there might be tension between Mr and Mrs considering the possibility that Mr may have trooped in late last night after being caught up in traffic on his way home from work. Nothing wrong with that, problems arise if it happens that Mr fell for the temptation to while the hours way with the boys at the pub as the clog on the road loosens.
Though this scenario may just be one of the many in the endangered world of marriage, even if she looks out of the car window this way while he looks the other, at least the physical proximity between them offers love a chance.
4. Beware of seasonal Traffic variations
Friday afternoon thanks to the tgf mentality, change of weather such as the occasional unexpected downpour and the like.
3.Beware of the big men
Ambulance, fire fighter engines and politicians are the three groups spared from the irritation of a traffic jam. This could be just one of the reasons why everyone dreams of political power this part of the world: Politicians are big here as traffic is often stopped so that they can wheeze by in their limos.
The bigger the politician, the longer the traffic holdup: Tell you what, watching a 30+ presidential motorcade of German machines wheeze by, nothing speaks of power as it does. It is probably such privileges that has seen no sitting African leader ever defeated in an election .Maybe, it’s such assurances that Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast is seeking before relinquishing it to president elect Ouatara.
2. So much Time
Traffic jams simply mean that more time is spent from point A to point B. For example, a ten minute ride may stretch out to half hour. This means that there is a chance that 20 minutes of the day may be lost navigating and changing lanes (the faster queue incidentally always happens to be the one you are not on).
Such time could provide an opportune time for jotting down ideas for your next article- as I did with this article- as you wait for the traffic lights lights to turn green; catching up with the days happenings reading the morning dailies or enjoy the convenience of mobile Internet.
However, care should always be exercised to avoid accidents.
1. Sit back and enjoy the ride
People watching ? Catch a conversation with a local? Take in the beauty of the day in the colours of the morning sun? When using public transport, the driver (friendly chaps) should regale you with urban legends.
If you are taking a matatu ride-the norm in public transport in Nairobi- you could enjoy the music from the state of the art sound system fitted in most. Tell you what, there is nothing like your favorite song starting to play over the well woven music system just as you stop comes by. At that moment, the matatu experience comes full circle as it occurs to you that it was much more than music: It was a sound track.
|14 Seater Matatu being phased out following an importation ban. Image by jenbrea via Flikr|
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