How I know I’m in Indonesia Part 47.
I think the below picture, from our local hardware superstore, goes some way towards summing up this country, and is rather cool:
And then we have this. It seems that road deaths are very sadly soaring in Bali…some 370 already this year, up from, I understand, about 400 for the whole of 2006.
It’s a nasty jump and the local police boss says, quite rightly (in Balinese I guess):
The increasing number of vehicles crowding Bali's roads and a general disregard for traffic rules has resulted in the current very high casualty rates.
There is no doubt that the swarming traffic congestion on the island from dawn to after midnight every day, does play a very big part in the gore and the traffic rules…well I’ll get to that.
However the whole story then takes this incredible turn…the police chief then offers as a solution:
The Chief of Police said the hoped Bali's lawmakers would seriously explore introducing a monorail, subway or toll road as means of reducing the massacre on Bali's roadways.
Apa? Seriously…..on an island which has suffered a couple of major terror attacks, and in a transport system where the maintenance crews, if they exist, are unable to keep the light-bulbs working in the traffic lights (at least 40% are always down), the proffered solution seems to be a subway or, incredibly, a monorail. Or, a toll road.
What do all these things have in common…they require lots of cash to be thrown around….which I suppose benefits the island, or, ahhh, sectors of it.
But will they, in the wild la la land that they are actually implemented, have any impact on the death toll..no of course not. One can make the reasonable assumption that Balinese are not going to give up the Honda for, what will be, a pricey monorail that may or may not work. One only needs to look at Bangkok to see that the locals generally steer clear of such things. And getting tourists to go down to a subway???
One would also imagine there are far more obvious things that can be done to drop the road toll rather more quickly.
Firstly, enforce the road rules….although first up we all need to know exactly what they are. Nobody seems to know, the police certainly don't unless there is cash involved, and what there are seem to be rather optional. So, if there are road rules, perhaps letting every one know precisely what they are may help..maybe a simple road code or the like, handed out at schools and on the roads.
A right hand rule is pretty universally basic to any nation where the populace drives on the left, so that might be a good idea. Oh and some basic education…perhaps on free TV, during the multitude of soaps, about looking before you turn in to traffic; and using indicators instead of waving a limp hand out the window; and the dangers of car meeting motor cycle; vehicle testing (good cashflow there); instruction on the art of giving way and letting someone in; and the correct way to approach a pedestrian crossing...you don't accelerate, and from time to time, you stop.
Sadly the only roles our police seem to undertake on the roads is a) extracting cash from tourists and bulés for “traffic infringements”, b) stopping the traffic for very important people, and c) relentless drivers license checkpoints, which are all rather pointless since everybody buys their driver’s licence from the Polda anyway, but I guess raise some ready roadside cash. One policeman recently wanted to see our dog licence…in Bali...we laughed and drove on....
I know, from friends from Java that the Javanese regard the driving in Bali as the worst in the country, which is saying something, but its hard to argue, it's absolutely appalling.
And then there are the roads…maybe the introduction of a few signs pointing out when the one way road becomes two way might save a life or two, or painting the road arrows pointing in the correct direction on a one way stretch….I could go on and on, but none of this is tricky stuff, it just takes the will to want to save a few lives.
Once all this is sorted….then perhaps a monorail might be worth a look….on second thoughts…no, not even then….