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Malawi Monday #3 – Roads, vehicles, etc

We are currently living in Lilongwe, Malawi. This is part of a series in which I share our experience about life here. If there is anything that you would like to know about Malawi, please feel free to post your question in the comments. We would love to do the research on your behalf. Please keep it family friendly.

Please note, this is a picture poor post…don’t ask!

Driving on the roads in the city or in the neighbourhood is an adventure I tell you! Other than 1 highway out of town, all roads have a maximum snails pace of 50km/h. I wonder some days what the reason is for this slow speed but then again driving in Malawi is…different.

As in every city on our beautiful planet we have peak time traffic here. Congestion, break-downs, road blocks, etc.

It’s also one of the few cities where circles or round abouts are treated with the necessary courtesy. Although traffic lights are dotted around the city, not one has a working yellow light. One gets accustomed to the incomplete lights but just in case one misses it, we wait for another car to go first.

One of the first things Adventurer 2 mentioned is that the general rule of thumb at stops or yields are that the ‘bravest goes first’! Scary but practical. The fact that accidents are not happening more often here is a miracle but that might just be the reason for the 50km/h speed limit.

Making due with what they have is seen regularly on the roads. One interesting pic that Adventurer 2 took was when a cargo ship container was modified by adding an axel to it with wheels and a tow bar added to the front. This contraption was towed by as dilapidated a pick-up as the creation itself! Even the locals stopped and stared at the procession passing them by at traffic stopping speed. To top it all the side of the container fell out and landed smack in the other lane, blocking oncoming traffic!

Another incident happened when two trucks were slowing traffic down once more. Whenever we went down-hill traffic flowed almost as normal. But when it became uphill, traffic slowed down severely. At some stage we noticed the truck in front of us going dangerously close! Only to find that it is pushing the truck in front! When we came to a turn the pushing truck gave the front truck an extra hard push but couldn’t follow immediately. A small car ended up between the two trucks and we all laughed nervously! Graciously the sandwiched car noticed his dilemma and could make a quick plan to get himself out of his predicament!

Other than mini-bus taxis or normal cars as taxi’s there are also bicycle taxis. A fleet of taxis are parked close to a small shopping centre where pedestrians usually rent a taxi. These bicycle taxi drivers cycle up and down hill with some interesting passengers on board. We’ve seen taxis with sink sheets tied between the passenger and the driver’s seat. Or a cage with hens. Thatch grass, bags of maize and anything that needs transporting is welcome passengers!

One last thing about anything traffic related is the kaleidoscope of unknown cars. Mazda, Toyota and Nissans are the major brands but the variety of models are immense! I have not noticed one brand of car which is prominent or even popular. Anything goes!! Very exciting…

That’s it for now. I’ll try to post a snippet every Monday for a while about this new adventure we’ve embarked on. Once more, if there is anything you would like to know about Malawi and life here, please feel free to ask your question in the comments below. We would love to do the research on your behalf as long as it’s family friendly!

Thanks for visiting until next time!

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