There’s this Nigerian stand-up comedian who has a well-worn joke about the causes of traffic jams in the different cities he has visited.
He says when he visited New York, he discovered traffic jams were caused by having too many traffic lights on the roads. In London, it was the narrow roads. But in Lagos…. here comes the punchline, it’s the demon causing traffic jams.
One gets stuck in a jam for hours and when they finally get to the head of the hold-up, there is nothing like traffic jam! If you understand African stand-up comedy, then you will know the point where you are supposed to burst into laughter.
With London, it’s true the roads are narrow, especially in the city centre. But the jams are not that bad in these areas because many commuters rely on the trains anyway. The high parking and congestion charges in central London are the other deterrents for the would-be drivers.
Ironically, what is becoming a big cause for traffic hold-ups in the capital are delivery vans – borne out of the Londoners’ love for shopping online and expecting the delivery at their doorsteps as fast as humanly- possible. Otherwise, the whole reason for shopping online at one’s convenience would be defeated at best.
Millennials are a people in a hurry. We live a fast-paced life crammed with tight work schedules, all sorts of social commitments and, of course, family. Still, the 24 hours we get in a day just don’t seem enough. Therefore, it’s understandable we consider online shopping a God-sent solution to the time-wasting chore that shopping can be.
As you can see, not only has our new indulgence become a major traffic concern, but the toil it is taking on the London pocket is also worth a mention.
Forget the current online shopping scenario in Uganda. What I want you to imagine is browsing through all the shops of Luwum and William streets on your phone. In the confine of your living room, look for a pair of lovely khaki trousers.
What are the chances that you will also look up a few a shopping malls? And while at it, buy the pair of trousers you were looking for, plus a few other items that caught your eye. At the end of the day, your budget is above Shs 80,000.
The situation can only be made ‘worse’ when the William street shop from which you made your online shopping assures you they will deliver to your gate in Kasangati in less than a day.
For a full-trolley supermarket shopping, the promise is four-hour delivery time. No wonder our London roads are clogged with delivery vans; driving crisscrossing the city, making shopping deliveries.
The quicker they delivery, the more we are impressed into shopping more, and the faster the shops must deliver. The circle can only evolve further.
And so, the next big solution to keeping up with the current pace is by abandoning the roads, and taking to the sky with delivery drones. Again, you must remember, the drone solution is to feed the London consumer need for speedy deliveries, not to quench the (consumerism) beast.
This makes one wonder what will happen next when the skies are also traffic-jammed with drones.