Tuesday, October 22, 2013
“The real winners are not those at the top but those who have come the farthest over the toughest roads.” -- Ernest A. Fitzgerald
The roads here are of two kinds only--inadequate and under construction. In 1995, the main road from Mwanza to the Kenyan border (passing through Bunda), a distance of about 190 miles was dirt all the way. Dirt that was rutted, pocked, full of deep holes and the road could destroy a car in just a few years. The Japanese paved the first thirty miles out of Mwanza and it is still good. Tanzania paved the road the rest of the way over about a five year period but by 2003, the road was in horrible repair with potholes the size of mortar craters, only about one and half lanes wide, no stripes painted, and with several one-lane bridges that brought traffic to a halt, not to mention the one foot high speed bumps (40 of them) between Mwanza and Bunda. A couple of years ago, Tanzania gave China the mineral rights to a lot of rare earth metals needed for computers, and China agreed to pave several roads, including the one from Mwanza to the Kenyan border. While still under construction (it is not quite to Bunda yet), it is a good, wide road from just a few kilometers from Bunda all the way to Musoma. The very scary one-lane bridge has been replaced by a two-lane wide concrete wonder that we don't even notice now. China got the best of the deal in terms of value, but we are getting a road that will be very nice. By December, it will be finished from Bunda to Musoma and they are planning on having the rest of the way to Mwanza finished in the next three years. Almost every missionary has had to replace windshields, shock absorbers, and tires almost once a year because of this one road (the only paved road of any length in our area of Tanzania). We have another one or two paved roads in Bunda now and actually have our very own roundabout. Downright uptown. What used to take almost an hour and a half to drive 40 miles will soon take less than an hour and be much kinder to our cars. Once off the paved road, you see what I have pictured at right, and even the paved road is shared by cars, trucks, bicycles, motorbikes, cattle, donkeys, hand-carts, walkers, goats, and dogs. It is why Karen and I both quit driving about three years ago. Too much stress, but like everything else here, we adjust to it, and sometimes, things get better and don't fall apart.