Lets face it, potholes across a majority of African countries are big business for the unemployed youth. Potholes are also a common and a serious hazard in most African countries. But jobless youths have seized on the problem as an opportunity. They fill the potholes with rocks, broken bricks and soil, and ask motorists to pay a “thank you fee”. Some claim that Pothole technicians even have Whats app groups to identify potholes and share with members of the group to make sure business continues to grow.
On social media, Zimbabweans joke about doing laundry or farming fish in the potholes, they are large and numerous, Zimbabweans say. “We reasoned that whoever calls themselves [the] city municipality in Harare is either dead or uninterested in repairing road potholes. Potholes are a nuisance and can see motorists changing tyres almost every two months. And car tyres can fetch up to US$73 each. These hideous road holes devour car wheels,” .Thing is as a tourists driving around a country, you’ll never know where the potholes are and might deal with a damaged car tyre and wheel , running into an unecessary expense. Without discussing the bureacracy of our governments, potholes sooner or later turn into a huge deterrent to tourists wanting to take cross country drives. Namibia is a vast country and cross country drives are a must. Now imagine if the country is famous for potholes. At least where i was born in Eswatini, we are famous for speed humps that have now turned into a national crises. Arent humps and potholes in the same group???
Some of the potholes in some African countries are literal sinkholes. A spare wheel is a must for a long drive in most African country. But truth is, a spare wheel is a must anywhere. So is a Toyota Land Cruiser when doing cross country drives in any African country. Those cars seem to withstand anything and any condition. Its like they were made for Africa. The UN loves them, the rebels, AU, NGO, INGOs and most companies. The long and the short of it, a Toyota Land Cruiser seems ideal for any drives across most African country roads. I forgot the 5 Liter empty petrol can, empty water can, and an extra spare wheel. Camping gear with full on tents and amenities. Africa has vast forests and stretches of forests only occupied by wildlife. Trust me, you dont want to sleep inside your car. Back to potholes….
A recent study by the American Automobile Association reveals 16 million motorists in the past five years have had damage to their vehicles from potholes costing them $3 billion annually. AAA also reported the average pothole-related damage bill is about $300 per driver. I can see potholes entrepreneurs smiling at such figures. After all, the average African lives on less than 1 dollar per day.
“Water is the biggest enemy of roads,”. Potholes form when water weakens the soil beneath the pavement and vehicle traffic stresses the pavement past the breaking point. Chunks of pavement between the fatigue cracks gradually work loose, and may eventually be plucked or forced out of the surface by continued wheel loads, creating a pothole. With shady dodgy tender processes in Africa, corrupt politicians and a broken system of checks and balances, it takes effort to fix potholes in Africa, let alone force the companies constructing the roads to account for their shoddy work. Now this looks far fetched for any travelling nomad but sooner or later, potholes start piling receipts into your pockets. So instead of enjoying those lazy drives from Johannesburg to Cape Town, you worry about potholes that you will not see clearly at night.
Africa has a very rich tropical climate with plenty of rains especially in most summer seasons. Even the best roads that i have seen like in Senegal, South Africa, Egypt are victims of such weather conditions. Sooner or later, the rain will damage the roads. Snow like they experience in Lesotho also damages the roads. With a slow turn around time for fixing roads, it takes years to get one pothole fixed in most African countries. For a travelling nomad, the politics dont matter. The concluding recommendation for any tourists will always be, Africa has a long way to go in terms of development. Truth is every little bit of thing counts if you want to boost tourism.
What otherwise could be a pleasant drive on a clear, sunny day soon becomes a nuisance as you steer around a bunch of pesky potholes. You start to feel like you are driving through an obstacle course at times, carefully avoiding all those small divots in the roadway. All the while, you wonder, why doesn’t someone do something about all these darn potholes? What’s taking so long to fix them? This is especially true for local tourists travelling from one end of the country to the next. . Truth is potholes frustrate travelling nomads from other countries and locals alike.
Tips for Encountering a Pothole
- If you have to drive over a pothole, slow down beforehand. Reducing speed will decrease the potential shock and damage caused by the bumpiness. Also, do not brake directly over the pothole as this can actually cause more damage.
- While driving over a pothole, hold your steering wheel securely with two hands and keep your wheels straight ahead.
- Leave plenty of room between you and other vehicles and pedestrians.
- Prepare ahead of time by making sure your tires are properly inflated. This can help protect your tires from damage, as well as reduce some of the jarring impact.
- Be especially wary if a pothole is filled with snow or water. You never know just how deep it is or if there are other hazards underneath.
- If you can’t avoid a pothole, and you think it’s best not to drive directly over it, your best bet would be to turn around and find a detour. It’s better to retreat and drive a bit further than to have your car broken down on the side of the road. Trust me!
Now let me see, if there arent any pothole opportunities in my own country!!!!!