Are Johannesburgers The Most Law Abiding Citizens in the World?
I love Johannesburg. I have lived in London and in Cape Town, yet Johannesburg remains my favourite city. It may not have a mountain or a sea or be the centre of the universe, but there is an energy mixed with a touch of the wild-west that makes you appreciate every day.
It is often said that Johannesburg is not for sissies and that the GP stands for “Gangstas Paradise”, but I have a different opinion.
In which other city in the world would drivers obey most of the rules of the road without active policing? The last time any of us saw metro policemen and women they were:
- hiding in a bush behind a speed camera
- running a “roadblock” at 02:15
- standing outside the FNB stadium before a concert or a test match
- in the queue at McDonalds
We never see the city’s bravest manning intersections when the lights are out (which is very often) or stopping the drivers going straight from the turning lane. We never see a ticket being written out for parking violations or illegal U-turns. An entire generation of drivers do not know that “traffic cops” exist.
I have been to other cities where it seems that there are no rules of the road. I have also been to “first-world” cities where people stop at amber lights. This always appears to be in direct proportion to how well the traffic is policed.
I have never seen a major city in which all the inhabitants know that there are no traffic policemen, but yet we (mostly) adhere to the rules. If you had to tell the occupants of any city that active policing has ceased, I have no doubt that chaos would follow within 24 hours.
In Johannesburg, it is well known that tow-truck drivers will turn our few working “robots” by 45⁰ in order to create accidents, yet the Metro policemen do nothing about it. Our radio traffic analysts can burst a blood-vessel talking about a problem at the most crucial of intersections, yet we all understand that nothing will be done about it.
If this was any other city, we would have all capitulated and started to drive like taxi drivers or burnt down the Metro Police headquarters, or voted out the incumbents.
But this is Johannesburg, and we all just turn the radio up and stop at the few traffic lights that are working this week. We are surely the most law abiding citizens in the world.