I was traveling to Port Louis today to attend a workshop on Leadership and Supervision in the context of the civil service reforms initiated by the Government. I left the car for public transport as it’s not a pleasure to drive to the main town at a time when you can hardly advance a meter in a minute. They call it peak time. God! It was a real nightmare.
Half way from town the police took nearly 10 minutes to book the bus driver for having picked up a passenger outside a bus stop. Meanwhile other travelers pressed the bell and shouted in protest for the long delay. One man stood up. “What’s going on? Are we moving or what?” His lips trembled as he queried the driver. The latter, somewhat embarrassed, stared at him and retorted in a rude voice: “Get down and talk to the police officer, if you can.”
It’s not unusual for buses to stop anywhere even if they have to wait for the passenger to cross the road amidst heavy traffic. That’s why I hate, and I guess many people do, traveling by bus.
The highway was relatively fluid. However there was a bottleneck at the entrance of Port Louis. As we were about to emerge from a side road, the traffic regulator stopped us. This was a manual control point, not an automatic one as at several points. Alongside us in parallel a fuel tanker was also waiting to emerge. The major road traffic had obvious priority, we understood. Everybody settled for that for a while. But it was more than that, because we waited for a little more than 15 minutes. It’s unusual, every one grumbled.
By that time my mobile rang. It was a friend who was also at the workshop. He asked me where I was, they were waiting for me to start. The vehicles behind us horned in commotion and the traffic officer simply smiled. He kept cool. A driver from another vehicle got down; and we saw him discussing with the traffic regulator. Poor fellow! The traffic officer just shrugged. We could guess he was simply executing orders from his boss. He knew it was unfair to keep us waiting that long. He kept ushering traffic on the major road. We just observed, our blood boiling in our veins. But why aren’t we allowed to go?
At last we saw a motorcycle policeman pass in a flash, followed by a big black BMW with tinted glasses. It was a VIP. It’s the type of vehicle VIP’s use here. Just then we were allowed to emerge. You can imagine how many vehicles passed during the 15 minutes’ stop; no less than 50, sometimes even 100 vehicles pass every minute at the strategic points during the peak hour. And by simple mathematics you can easily rank the position of the BMW.
It reminds me of the story of the hare and the tortoise, except that here the hare had imperatively to wait for the tortoise to pass the post first.
The trip took me 80 minutes, when we usually make it barely in 45 to 50 minutes. Obviously I was late; I reached the training centre at 09.40 am, not really because of the flow of some10 000 vehicles to the town at that particular time of the day
Mauritian residing in Rodrigues, Amanoola Khayrattee (pen name Alfa King) is contributing writer and journalist to La Gazette Mag de l’océan indien and This Week News Mauritius.
Retired, former meteorological cadre, trade unionist and OSH consultant, Amanoola has written for in-house union and other journals, publications and magazines. He runs two blogs since 2007: “Alfa King Memories”, and “Le Journal d’Alfa King”. When he is not reading or writing, he is on a 10+ km daily hike in anticipation of his monthly trails.
Amanoola may be reached at [email protected].