The rebuilding of the road to School Junction is paved with political intention — an undertaking that will be wrapped around our necks come election time. The disintegrating bitumen oases in the red desert have been dug up, construction helmets dancing in the sun, bright with the promise of what is to come.
“It is good.”
says one taxi driver, our teeth rattling in the impact of shock unabsorbed. “We have been suffering with this road for too long.” And we have, commuter patience reduced to sullen despair as bodies are thrown about in an almost comical dance, shoulders bruising against rusted doors, spines aching from the effort of retaining some semblance of order, of form.
Development is coming to School Junction. For months now, we have endured the dust, the traffic, the cutting of old trees and their blessed shade, the detours; we are proponents and not enemies of progress, you see. We will all benefit from development. All of us.
This morning the carriers of progress come wearing task force jackets, their neon backs blazing with the promise of displacement. A few finger pointing, surveyor squinting hours later, their plan is clear.
Who would have thought? The road at School Junction is actually a dual carriageway — not the single lane we have become accustomed to. The entire taxi rank is in the road, kiosks and all. They will have to go. They will have to go — development is coming to School Junction.
Away with the kiosks, away with the taxis, away with the trotros and their communities. Trotro routes are discontinued at a moment’s notice, their passengers left to improvise. It is alright though — we are proponents of progress, and development is coming to School Junction.
This morning there is one trotro stationed at School Junction, a lone wish in front of the trotro drivers’ shed. Inside the shed, the mates who used to fight over you now shrug their shoulders. If they look at you at all.
Will the city look at us, plan for us, at all?
As development settles over School Junction, a lone police officer enters the shed, making his way to the office at the back. The resident stationmaster looks up and, without flinching, flips to the back of the open book before him, pulling out a wad of cash. The police officer is soon on his way. As are we, our necks rigid in defense of the dignity the incomplete road wishes to deny us.
We resign ourselves to the illegitimacy of our being, for we are proponents — not enemies — of progress; and development is progress, even if it excludes us. We are proponents of progress, development.
And development is coming to Ashaley Botwe.