Monday, February 12, 2007

Look! Timor has traffic signals?

Last Thursday was the beginning of a new age in Timor.  The first traffic lights in Dili began working.  Recently everyone watched as they were erected and sat dormant for maybe a month or so.  Everyone in Dili theorized about what would happen when they turned on.  How were they to work when electricity goes on and off multiple times a day for hours at a time?  We also imagined the chaos and wrecks when some cars follow the lights and others didn't.   Well this week we all got to see.
Thursday morning I was driving through a central area where there is common violence problems, the Jardim.  I saw a large crowd ahead in the road and heard lots of noise.  I immediately slowed down but soon realized that it was just the new traffic lights that cars were slowing down for.  At the intersection was a large gathering of mostly youth all watching as if were a comedy show.  As everyone, even taxis, stopped on red and went on green.  The crowd pointed, shouted, and laughed.  Cars actually came to a complete stop.
It is now four days later and I have not seen any accidents yet.   Most people seem to actually be following the lights and the system seems to be working.  My only complaint is that the light pole was built directly at the line in the road you are supposed to stop at.  So when you stop there it is difficult to actually see the light.  If you go past by even a meter it is impossible to know when the light changes.  Anyway lets hope it continues to work.  paz
lv jesse 

Jesse Shapiro
Water and Sanitation Engineer
Plan International
flipflop...not a shoe...a lifestyle.

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