Ode to gridlock: poet masterfully sums up state of Yangon traffic

“Strange are the behaviours of fellow humans/ which seems [sic] to defy common sense.”

So begins a poem published in state media last week that conjures up a vivid picture of Yangon’s growing traffic scourge and the comical characters to blame.

In ‘Behaviour Conducive to Traffic Congestion’, featured in the Global New Light of Myanmar on July 16, the author ‘Lokethar’ lists some of the unfortunate  “happenings” that are “observed daily” in the city.

“It’s bewildering to see in the centre of Yangon/sides of streets extended, purportedly to ease traffic congestion,  occupied by hawkers and sellers without compunction, with the motorists and pedestrians in competition,” he writes.

He bemoans impatient bus drivers “not keeping to their lane, instead racing to pick up and drop passengers at the stop ahead” and “driving off ere the passengers find their feet”.

Then there are the motorists who “rear up” against oncoming traffic, risking a collision; the brokers “wheeling and dealing and clogging the street”; and the residents of ground floor apartments who park huge vehicles on the narrow roads, “some even putting obstacles on the street … ‘reserving’ the place for their car”.

Here’s the poem in all its glory, reproduced as it was written in English:

Behaviour Conducive to Traffic Congestion

Strange are the behaviours of fellow humans
which seems to defy common sense,
from some happenings to focus on
observed daily in the City of Yangon.

It’s bewildering to see in the centre of Yangon,
sides of streets extended, purportedly to ease traffic
congestion,
occupied by hawkers and sellers without compunction,
with the motorists and pedestrians in competition.

Some Bus drivers, not keeping to their lane, instead
racing to pick up and drop passengers at the stop ahead
defiantly throwing sense and caution to the wind
oblivious of the motorists on it’s side and behind
halting at the stop almost in the middle of the street
and driving off ere the passengers find their feet.

At traffic light line-ups, some motorists from the rear
roar up from the other side of the centre line clear
against on coming traffic, bent only on getting ahead
to beat the traffic light, risking head-on collisions instead.

The pedestrians at Zebra and Over-bridge crossing,
provided for their safety, but many not using
but crossing the street weaving among the cars
slowing traffic and risking accidents without care
or fears.

In-spite of the numerous car showrooms selling used
cars
similar cars line the streets of busy commercial areas
teeming with ‘brokers’ wheeling and dealing and clogging the street from traffic smoothly flowing.

Then there are the residents of ground floors of
buildings
on the narrow streets, their private cars parking
slowing down traffic and people walking
some even putting obstacles on the street siding
‘reserving’ the place for their car, preventing
other motorists from the parking space using.

Taking “effective action” has not changed such behavior
it’s very unlikely that it will do so in the near future
as it has become a habit for many of this generation.
For the future, the answer may lie in early “Civics” education. 

Photo / Traffic jam in Yangon, 2013 / Licensed via Creative Commons.

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CITY: YANGONCATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: TRANSPORTATION

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