It appears many people got the wrong end of the stick about the much-awaited multi-million Pula integrated traffic junction, locally known as the ‘spaghetti’. With it being the first of its kind in Botswana, it would seem the local people had very lofty ideas about what to expect of the road. As the project progresses, it has become the talk of the country for all the wrong reasons, due to people’s expectations of the new road being dashed.
In typical Setswana fashion, perhaps the general disappointment stemming from the false expectations of many can be summed up by a comment by one sorely disappointed Francistown local who allegedly said of the project,
“Nnyaa mo ga se Spaghetti ke Macaroni hela.” – “No, this is no spaghetti, but rather mere macaroni.”
From the day it was announced that the Tonota-Francistown section of the A1 Road from Gaborone to Francistown would be developed into a dual carriageway with a modern day “spaghetti junction replacing the Thapama Lodge roundabout in Francistown,” everyone was over the moon ecstatic.
The word ‘spaghetti’ soon became the buzzword in Francistown. As the project gathered pace, everyone was on high alert, excited to see how the state of the art project would pan out.
People’s imaginations went wild, each with their own visions of the finished product. The media also fanned people’s excitement, whipping them into a frenzy as they published pictures of some of the most sophisticated ‘spaghetti’ junctions around the globe. Public excitement went into overdrive, as people imagined all types of sophisticated ‘spaghetti’ types road!
People took to the Internet in their droves to look up examples of this thing of unprecedented beauty and of course, what they saw only heightened their glee for the intended ‘spaghetti’ road. Sadly, what they didn’t take into account is the fact that while some of the results they got on the Internet are commonplace in the developed world because of the sheer amount of traffic, the magnitude of the Francistown project would be nowhere near those they saw on the Internet, simply because Francistown has far less traffic.
According to the Department of Roads’ Acting Director, Ms. Kgakgamatso Kalasi, one of the key objectives of the ‘spaghetti’ junction is to boost the local economy. Ms. Kalasi further explained that the interchange would reduce traffic jams, as fewer vehicles would spend time in traffic; thereby reducing the emission of harmful fuel gases into the atmosphere.
She said the road would take into account pedestrian safety, so they can easily and comfortably navigate their way to various shopping malls in the city. This is to be commended because a lot of the roads in Botswana have no pavement where you can safely walk.
It is also hoped that the interchange, which is currently not capturing the hearts of the locals, will improve the aesthetic view of the city. Francistown is known for its bumper – to – bumper traffic jams; so improving the road system would improve the ease of doing business. Ongoing construction work has brought traffic in the city to a snail’s pace, especially during peak hours, with taxi operators complaining bitterly about the loss of business.
There are many other road construction works around Francistown besides the ‘spaghetti’ road project that contribute to the current traffic jams, which have left car drivers in the city frustrated and some even angry. Contrary to local expectations, the Francistown Interchange is not as much of an elaborate work of art found in much more developed countries. Only time will tell what the local’s verdict is when the ‘spaghetti’ road is completed; whether they think it’s more spaghetti or macaroni. At this rate, they may even relegate it to 2-minute noodles status. Knowing Batswana, whatever they decide, the name will stick and the road will forever be known as whichever one of the three they settle on.
Do you live in Francistown? What’s your take on the first ever ‘spaghetti’ road Botswana has ever had; is it spaghetti or macaroni or worse? Please feel free to share with YourBotswana.
Twitter user @hennymaps