Islands of paved roads
One thing I noticed last time in Abidjan was that there are plenty of areas of the city that are like islands of paved roads that can’t be reached with paved roads. One would think that main connecting roads would be paved first, but what I think is happening is that a private sector developer buys a specific area and builds both houses and roads there. Then it is the government’s responsibility to sort out connecting roads, and well, the Ivorian government hasn’t been very good at that over the last ten years.
Paving roads should be in a government’s interest though, it not only makes life easier for citizens and reduces transport costs for the private sector, but is also apparently a key factor in people’s perception of government. Here are results from a Mexican study I found via chrisblattman.com:
Families living along streets that were treated with pavement were 0.304 points more satisfied with the local government than those in the control group (on a 4-point scale).
Satisfaction with the State and Federal government also increased significantly, by 0.168 and 0.140 points. In other words, the direct effect of the local policy is about twice as large as the indirect effects.
…the indirect effect does not occur along party lines, but reflects a generalized improved perception for all other branches of government.
Finally… the return for the implementing politician in terms of vote share is 7 percentage points (20% increase in share) if an unpaved electoral section gets fully paved under the politician’s watch.
My Cocody house is actually in a paved road island area. I was going there with some prospective tenants on a rough unpaved road and they asked if there was any other way to reach the house. I had to tell them that yes, there are other paths, but unfortunately they aren’t paved either.
Building roads and bridges
On the other hand, the good news is that the Ouattara government is doing progress in paving and building roads. And when roads get paved real estate values increase.
The worst thing with unpaved roads is when there are heavy rains – and that’s a frequent occurrence in Abidjan. Roads then often become impassable or force speeds to be reduced to crawling, virtually shutting down whole sections of the city. Here’s how it looks, same street as above:
Speaking of infrastructure, I recently saw a video of the planned construction of the so called 3rd bridge of Abidjan crossing the lagoon, and the connecting highway ramp/roundabout at Riviera II. I hadn’t quite realised how long the bridge would be – 2 km, and over three times the length of any of the existing bridges. The thing with the bridge project is that it was planned something like 15 years ago, but then nothing happened. One of Gbagbo’s aides even built a house on the mouth of the bridge. Now the house has to be demolished and there is a bit of of brouhaha over that.
Anyhow, here’s the video: