It is 14 hours on Boulevard du 30 Juin, the main avenue in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The bumper-to-bumper massive traffic grinds the whole flow of vehicles to a halt. Every other three to five minutes.
The weather, a bit chilly in the morning, has now turned into a blazing hot and humid mix. The dry season is in full swing and definitely takes its toll on the Kinois, the enterprising Kinshasa inhabitants.
From the fifth floor of my ageing office building I peek through the window down to the city at its busiest. Distant frantic honking of impatient taxi drivers drown the aggressive marketing shouts and whistling of pure water sellers and shoe shine boys present everywhere in the city. Street children, also known as shegues, are busy trying to steal whatever their hands reach from the cars trapped into the traffic or from unsuspecting pedestrians.
The traffic lights recently installed by Chinese contractors are utterly unreliable when functional, so much so that the government ended up redeploying traffic cops at some critical junctions on the avenue. Even then, you still find many drivers going through the red light and cops.
If you have survived driving in Kinshasa, you might as well have passed the ultimate defensive and offensive driving test.
This is typical of Kinshasa, but for those who have travelled to other major African cities, traffic is just as bad. This could be Lagos, Nairobi, Addis or Johannesburg…
These cities were built in a way that you have a central « office corner » where all converge in the morning, and a « living room corner » where everyone returns when the day closes.
It is telling of the bustling life we find in Kinshasa and in Africa.