Danger of exaggeration over potholes

There is always a danger of exaggerating a case we wish to put forward in a paper’s letters column and it can sometimes be difficult to resist the temptation.

In his letter on potholes Paul Richards goes over the top on two counts (Gazette, May 14).

Yes, there is a problem with some of our roads. But to compare them with those in the undeveloped world where potholes are the norm rather than the exception is fanciful.

However, it is the hoary old red herring about ‘imperialist exploitation’ providing the reason for the state of east African highways that is way out of reach.

I have not merely visited an African country; I spent almost three years in the bush of northern Zambia in the 1970s. Twenty years after coming home I made a return pilgrimage.

The road from the capital of the northern province, Kasama, to Mporokoso was far worse than it had been a generation earlier. The ‘imperialists’ had long left town.

Indeed most black African countries have now been independent for half a century.

In the case of Tanzania, one of the most beautiful, the nation has been going it alone for 52 years. Its first leader, Julius Nyerere, all but brought it to its knees with his collectivist-socialist policies.

Rhodesia was once so well-economically run it was exporting produce around the world. ‘Imperialists’ did not create the monstrous Robert Mugabe to bring it to the basket case that Zimbabwe has become.

Nor did they pave the way for the hideous Idi Amin in Uganda, nor the corrupt Daniel Arap Moi in Kenya. But they did create the mining industry of the Northern Rhodesian Copperbelt from which present-day Zambians continue to benefit.

Of course there was a lot wrong with colonial days, not least in the matter of attitudes.

However, sooner or later internal political ineptitude and corruption will have to be recognised in the blame game, for lousy roads as well as all else.


Collington Close.