Back in the 80’s, the Seychelles got their first taste of modernity – their very first traffic light. Apparently, when it was first installed, people would take picnics and sit and watch it working. Taxi drivers added it to their routes, proud to impress tourists with the wonderful new innovation on their island. It became quite the crowd puller!
Up until this year, it remained the only traffic light in the Seychelles. It’s located in Victoria on Mahé, the one place where there is actual traffic.
On Praslin, we now boast a whopping two traffic lights of our own. One is located at the end of the airport’s runway that stops cars when the little inter-island prop plane is coming in or taking off. The planes come in low and could potentially hit a car if it was going through at the same time – not quite car-on-car traffic like we all moved to an island to escape, but a sensible place for a traffic light, to be sure.
Praslin’s other light is privately owned and has been put up on the road outside this person’s house. It doesn’t actually work (and apparently, never has), but yet it’s still there, complete with a pedestrian crossing box. A decorative traffic light… only in the islands! My favourite thing about this one is that it’s only installed on one side of the street. Even in the event that the owner ever did get it working, it would only stop traffic on half of the road, leaving pedestrians to go at it on their own unprotected on the other side.
Seeing as how there’s really only one proper road on Praslin, there should be no need for traffic management (apart from the aforementioned light at the end of the runway). But since we do have buses, a few trucks, and cars moving about, we do still get traffic jams. Just not for the usual reasons you’d think of…
Causes of Seychelles Traffic Jams:
- When someone stops in the middle of the road to chat with their friend (very common!), it’s always sure to cause a back-up. The worst is when you get stuck behind someone who seems to not just know, but be best friends with, everyone they come upon and wants to stop and talk to them all.
- Stopping in the middle of the road – or on a blind bend! – to buy fish from a guy off the side of the road is perfectly acceptable here. The cars behind will just have to wait, try not to crash into the stopped vehicle, and perhaps buy some fish of their own.
- Sometimes people decide to dig up the road themselves to lay electrical cable to their house. So considerate!
- Pretty girls and pretty boys are common causes of jams, as everyone must slow to have a look.
- Tourists are also fond of stopping in the middle of the road, leaving their cars unattended for photo ops of the beach, a tree, a waterfall, a crab in the road – really, whatever catches their eye.
- Landslides blocking the road can cause the most major of jams, not just for a few hours, but for sometimes as long as week, until they are finally cleared. This is a particular delight.
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Do you have traffic on your rock? How many traffic lights does your island pride itself on?