By Lyu Tianran and Apollinaire Niyirora
BUJUMBURA Burundi (Xinhua) -- At a
busy street corner in Burundian capital Bujumbura, cars and
pedestrians were waiting for the newly installed traffic lights
to turn from red to green, a sight that has been absent in the
small African country for a long time.
Traffic lights in
Burundi stopped functioning due to a lack of repair mechanism
less than one year after being installed in 1999, Burundian
traffic police chief Roger Bankibigwira told Xinhua in an
Many pedestrians do
not know when to cross the road as traffic lights are a new
sight for them, he said.
Funded by the
African Development Bank, STECOL Corporation, a Chinese firm
focusing on engineering and construction works, started
installing traffic lights at 19 street corners across Bujumbura
in May. All of the traffic lights, made in China, have been put
to use since August.
To minimize the
impact on traffic, workers assembled light posts, signal lights
and other components of the traffic lights at the company’s
compound before they started installation at street corners,
according to Hu Jianjun, the site manager.
The workers only had
to connect the post and the base and then plugged them in at the
installation site, which largely reduced installation time on
streets, he said.
restored discipline among drivers. Drivers from the countryside
or foreigners freshly coming to Bujumbura were facing challenges
to drive in Bujumbura,” said minibus driver Gerard Bizabityo.
“Only those who
didn’t fear anything could easily drive in Bujumbura,” he said,
adding that many drivers are now enjoying the respect of traffic
rules thanks to the traffic lights.
“I am sure that
accidents have reduced during these weeks when the traffic
lights started working. They also reduce traffic jams and
disorders,” said, Onesphore Rukere, a 34-year-old motorbike taxi
A campaign of
explaining how traffic lights work also started recently to
target all users of roads, according to the police chief.
The traffic lights
have already shown their ability to reduce traffic jams and
accidents, Burundian minister of transport Jean Bosco
Ntunzwenimana told Xinhua in an exclusive interview.
The government no
longer need to deploy police officers at major road junctions
thanks to the traffic lights, he said.
“The work done by
the Chinese company so far is great. We highly appreciated what
has already been achieved,” said the minister.
According to him,
the government is negotiating with the African Development Bank
to allow Burundi to use the remaining fund in the installation
of traffic lights at 16 more places in the capital. The traffic
lights might be extended to other major towns if the funding is
available, he said.
“Burundi and China
have strong and traditional relations. Projects carried out by
Chinese companies in Burundi are well done,” he told Xinhua.