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A Huge Sigh of Relief

Two weeks ago did you hear the collective sigh of relief and the shouts of joy coming from Niamey?  I think the entire city rejoiced as two years of construction and massive road stress came to an end.  OK, there will always be crazy drivers no matter what and there will always be challenges such as sharing the roads with camels, donkeys, pedestrians, and mentally ill people.  But at least we can now return to the trip to Sahel or to church and back being 8 km instead of 20 km and of said trip taking 5-10 minutes one way instead of 30 minutes to an hour one way.

I will try to show you some before, during, and after pictures of the construction.  Please remember that some of these are taken through a streaked windshield so I apologize for the poor quality.

Taken in November 2011, just before the area was closed for construction.  This is going towards the traffic your right is the entrance to the bridge.  Taking down all those ugly signs has been an additional bonus.

Approaching the same traffic circle today with the bridge on the right.
Going on to the bridge...the angle of the two pictures just above is taken from where the cars in the center right of the picture are approaching.  This shows WHY we needed to improve the situation!  Photo taken in 2011.
This is taken in 2011, coming down from the hospital towards the Rond Point Kennedy with the Gaweye Hotel on the right and the Musee on the left.

This is more or less the same angle as it is today.  Coming down from the hospital, going to the right will take you past the Gaweye and on to the bridge.  Going straight will take you into Niamey center....towards the petit marche, etc.

While the construction was going on, we could drive on the "sidewalk" in front of the Gaweye to get to the bridge.  You could also bounce across the approach to the bridge and take a plowed-out dirt road to get back to the center area of town.  Coming home from the other side of the river, we had to take the new bridge which took a lot of time!

Driving along the "sidewalk" in front of the Gaweye.
The way it is now, with the Gaweye to the right.

So, while the roads were under construction for two years, I can't even put into words how complicated it was to get around the city.  I must admit I was very thankful to no longer have kids at Sahel so I didn't have to make the commute every day, but my heart went out to those who did!  We had many half-serious jokes about joining "Road Rage Anonymous" and serious prayers for patience.  Craziness was the norm and we learned to tell ourselves that getting home safely was what mattered and how other people drove was not my problem as long as they didn't involve me in an accident!

The next few pictures show the Rond Point Kennedy taken from the bridge looking towards the center of town.

And there it is!  The new overpass.  I'm hopeful that traffic will now be a lot easier to deal with!
Taken in 2009

Taken from almost the same spot a few days later.  This is harmattan in the air....dust that blows down from the Sahara Desert.

The end of the bridge heading into the Rond Point Kennedy

Ahem, sir, going the wrong way around the circle is bad for your health.
Around the cirlce and back up towards the hospital with the musee on the right.

Meanwhile, other changes have been going on in the city.  We are a city of traffic circles.  The next two pictures are at a large traffic circle (rond point) where the "congress" building is.  The first one was taken right after a storm that blew down a sign, but it wasn't really a very pretty location.  Whether or not you like the modern sculpture that is there now, it sure looks better than it did before.
Looking a little sad after a big wind storm.
Looking a whole lot better today.
  So yes, that was a big sigh of relief you heard coming from Niamey!  Maybe driving will return to normal?