Johannesburg’s urban forest is flourishing. The summer rainfall has injected even more life into the city’s lung; a green belt that breathes beauty into Jozi. It doesn’t yet extend across the entire city. Far more needs to be done to increase the notches of the green belt into townships like Soweto and Alexandra.
Despite the violent thunderstorms and welcome downpours, the usual summer holiday exodus provides a sense of calm to the city’s remaining residents. Between mid-December and early-January, the roads are dead quiet, allowing me to exercise my cycling and jogging habits in peace. It is by far my favorite time of the year! This tranquility is short lived. The second week of January marks the end of the summer break. The holiday-makers return to the big city. The summer rains continue.
Jozi has a world class road system. In my experience, our network of freeways, thoroughfares and back roads are on par with cities in United Kingdom. However there could be a traffic storm brewing on the streets of Johannesburg. A veritable cocktail of potholes, robots and dodgy driving mixed with a dash of rain.
There is nothing new about potholes peppering Jozi’s roads after numerous heavy downpours, but these wheel crunching mini-craters seem to be even more ubiquitous this year. It is time for the thousands of 4×4 owners across the city to drive their vehicles on gravel; some for the first time!
The Johannesburg Road Agency has its work cut out. It now also has a robot (a.k.a traffic light) headache. Robots seem to attract rain. Water damage is usually the only factor, but this year, theft has taken out over 400 traffic lights across the city.
I am hoping the Metropolitan Police refrain from sitting idly behinds trees with speed guns and rather focus their attention on traffic flowing and penalising dangerous driving. I hope the gang responsible for traffic light vandalism is caught and punished for theft and causing grid lock.
If you live in Gauteng, my advice is to leave a little earlier for your appointments this week. In the highly likely case you get stuck in traffic, take a deep breath and think about the great city you live in.
And if you own a car, you should remind yourself that you are a member of a privileged minority of car owners who have the means to drive to work.