Beware Flying Stones

Written By: The Lowdown - Apr• 30•13

2013 04 small coverWe have lamented many times previously on the seeming willy nilly erection of billboards around Lusaka (and Ndola and Kitwe and Chingola and Solwezi and …). But this time the Lusaka City Council seem to have outdone themselves.  We refer, of course, to the new billboards which have been erected in the centre island of Addis Ababa Drive.


At first glance, one thinks that the street has been tidied up and that with the plants in place, it is a vast improvement on what was there before. But then one looks again and sees that they were wrong in their initial impression.


DSC_3360The first problem is the stone that has been spread liberally across the centre island.  Already the stones, and they are not small, are falling into the road where they will become windscreen wrecking weapons as they hurtle out from under the tyres of passing cars and hit into the cars behind and to the side. Not only do we fear broken windscreens but also accidents as our many inexperienced drivers have their windscreens shattered rendering them unable to see where they are going. In the ensuing panic they will undoubtedly drift into the path or back of another vehicle.


The second problem is the trees that have been planted in the centre island.  Whilst they are small, this is fine.  But as they grow, their roots will spread under the tarmac and start pushing up the tarmac, causing bumps and eventually necessitating premature repair of the road surface, as they have in Chikwa Road. Or, as will be the more likely scenario given the Council’s poor track record on road maintenance and repairs, motorists bumping into potholes for a number of years.


The third problem is the height above ground and positioning of some of the billboards. A number of the billboards pose a threat to motorists trying to join Addis Ababa from a side road as they totally block sight of oncoming traffic.  In order to see properly, motorists have to edge forward putting the front of their cars into the path of oncoming traffic.


I am told, although I have not been able to confirm this myself, that legislation does exist on the minimum height of billboards above the ground and these billboards clearly do not comply with this legislation.


We fully understand that the Council derives considerable revenue from billboards. We also fully understand that the Council are unable, although I don’t know why, to maintain Lusaka’s gardens, pavements, traffic circles, parts etc in a clean, tidy and attractive manner. Clearly a business in Lusaka has undertaken to beautify the centre island of this road and the Council have jumped at the opportunity. In doing so, they have failed to ensure that legislation and regulations are adhered to.  And one assumes that the Council are actually being paid the normal daily rate for these billboards.


The other issue which has not escaped me is that many of the billboards require lighting at night.  The first question is who pays for the electricity? But the bigger question is why have we got advertising billboards consuming electricity when large swathes of the country are being loadshed every second night, and in some instances, every night?







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