I don’t wish to moan and groan but I recently experienced first hand a part of SA that didn’t work. Last Thursday (6th September 2012) I was called unexpectedly to collect a family member from Sandton. Her bus hadn’t arrived. Or it had left early. Who knows? I set off full of hope. After all, I’ve faced Sandton rush hour traffic before and it doesn’t intimidate me. Expected round trip about 1/2 an hour.
Two hours later I finally arrived home. What normally took me one or two minutes of travel in central Sandton had been extended to a 90 minute gridlock. My cost, well, 90 minutes (I won’t guess what that is worth) and about R100 (say $13US) in wasted fuel and heaven only knows the cost of wear and tear to my vehicle. And I had it easy. I was just trying to reach my passenger and to turn around and head home in the opposite direction. If I had been trying to pass through Sandton that may have cost me a another ninety minutes.
Later I heard that it was all about two traffic lights in Sandton that failed to work (it had been raining) and that no traffic wardens were present to direct traffic (also presumably because it had been raining).
Now, mine was just one vehicle. Multiply my cost with the hundreds (or more, perhaps) of other vehicles, some of them failed in the gridlock, adding to the congestion. I wonder what that incident cost Sandtonians and other luckless visitors? And the other costs of failed systems (I saw at least two ambulances navigating the gridlock), I wonder what that cost?
I was involved because of a bus service that was not working. Everyone about me were involved because of a traffic light system that was not working and traffic wardens who were not working, all because of a little rain, which, by the way, by then had cleared.
The Direct Democracy Forum have set themselves the goal of Making South Africa Work, and that incident drove home just how badly that was needed. Yet that was a minor incident compared to the daily tribulations of millions of South Africans who face a lot worse on a regular basis.