Home > City Journal > Of roads, tents and zebra

Of roads, tents and zebra

Car wrecks, donkeys, honking of cars and putting up ‘mourning tents’ have long been inconvenient features of the streets of Addis. So has been jaywalking- crossing a street anywhere other than at designated crossing place-. Now the act has been declared as a violation of the law which could land the offender into legal trouble- to be exact, a 24-hour arrest or 60 birr fine. A long-time Ferenge resident of the city, Yves Stranger has made this interesting observation in the latest publication of What’s Out! Addis.

The streets of Addis are changing: not only are there more cars and quicker roads, but jaywalking –or crossing outside of designated areas-is now, I am told, strictly forbidden. I even saw a bunch of people the other day who had been rounded up for this very sin…now, obviously crossing the road-especially a fast road like the ring road-outside of designated places is plain dangerous. Especially for the jaywalkers themselves, but also because they can create accidents involving multiple cars, after a first car tries to avoid the hapless pedestrian, thus creating a pile-up and untold human and material damage.
The streets of Addis are changing: people are now talking of jaywalking whereas not long ago, pedestrians simply walked in the middle of the street. And so it is that ‘modernization’ bringing its little incremental changes to Ethiopia everyday. Another thing that people did-is put up lekso-or mourning-tents (which are erected in order to cater to the great numbers which traditionally come to pay their respects to the dead), in the middle of the streets. Now, while you may get away with this on a road where traffic is slow, putting a tent up on a fast driving highway would be plain suicidal.
Putting up tents in the middle of the road and walking through fast flowing traffic lanes may have to change, for sure -but, as modernization brings these little changes everyday, we will have to think at how the culture will sort things out: the lekso tent has to be put up somewhere and pedestrians should be given some form of precedence in a country where after most people walk on foot. And I haven’t seen a lot of cars stopping for pedestrians lately, whether they were patiently waiting at a zebra crossing or not. I guess all that remains is to walk the talk…
Where? On every road, path, highway, thruway and pavement of our good city.

Categories: City Journal
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