The car of the Head Teacher collided with a motorcycle here this week. Two of our local young men were on the bike on the way to a Maasai village and the car was coming the other way. The two on the bike were run over by the wheels of the car. Legs were broken and the passenger on the bike has internal injuries. Word has come that the doctors have amputated a leg of the passenger. Both are at Salien Hospital in Arusha and the bike is a write off.
There are a good number of bikes here in Olbalbal now. There must be six or seven. They are used mostly as taxies to ferry people around and out to the Maasai villages. Since the Chinese bikes are very cheap, running a taxi service can be a lucrative business. Of course none of the motorcycle drivers have driving licenses and, as elsewhere, the rules of the road don’t seem to apply to motorbikes. Up to now the police have ignored the whole situation, lack of licenses and the way the bikes pay little attention to road rules. Now, in the last couple of days since the accident, there is talking of banning the bikes in the Conservation Area of Ngorongoro.
In our main town of Arusha here in Northern Tanzania, there are many thousands of motorcycles and very serious accidents on a daily basis. One can buy one of the Chinese bikes for the equivalent of about $800 thousands of people seem to be able to come up with that money. There, as is true here in Olbalbal, the boys and young men driving them do not have driving licenses and the rules of the road don’t seem to apply. These “taxi” bikes weaving in and out of traffic regularly carry women with infants and small children and there are frequently horrendous accidents. Hardly a day goes by in Arusha without the funeral of a bike taxi driver and his unfortunate passengers. Yes, often there are two passengers perched precariously on the bike behind the driver, enabling the driver to earn a double fare. The funeral processions include long lines of bikes following the hearse to mourn their fellow biker. Soon it will be the turn of one of these biker mourners together with his passenger(s) to go under the wheels of a car.