No Shovels in Niger

No Shovels in Niger
9:15 PM Thursday September 15, 2005

Sometime people step on their… NOSE
(I will leave out the correct word.)
Sometimes they jump up and down on it.

I am hard pressed to know how the drivers of trucks in Niger can just trample or smash the poor thing.

I have now witnessed and been personally involved in three road trips that are hard to fathom. There are two characteristics of poor countries that are usually the same.

1. They do not plan or think of the consequences, they seem incapable of anticipation of problems.

2. Time is not considered part of the plan - The Manana Syndrome.

I watched a semi truck plow into the sand bank yesterday.

I was amazed, he did not even slow down, run ahead, check the path, or even consider that maybe he would be in that truck sitting in the sun for two days trying to get the truck dug out of the sand.

One does this, then the next one come around and does the same, then soon there are three, four, or many doing the same. They can really smash their little dingy.

Here is a photo of three vehicles all bogged down in the sand, I am very happy that bus is not mine, there were two buses, my bus was in front of the other in the queue and luckily my driver did not jump in and plow into the sand, or I suspect I would still be on the bus, and not typing in this room in Niamey.

I think this is what happened.

The middle truck stopped coming up the hill and slid off, the second on or the one on the right plowed around hoping to go through and got stuck.

Sadly, there were maybe 200 people here and they could have easily pushed the second truck out of the bog, if they were not so lazy. There is no natural instinct here to help another person in trouble, everyone is helping himself or herself and does not help anyone but themselves.

Me and the Military person, which spoke some English, were walking around reconnoitering the area. My bus was going down hill so the options were better than those coming up the grade. We looked at one long route that was being made by some small vehicles successfully. There was a route where now the bus is sitting that to me was never a choice for exactly the problem you see he left part of the bus has dropped. Now follow the leader mentality is the problem here, small cars were making it, so the bus decided to try.

There was an old man, who between him, I, the Military guy however for the most parts this man below:

This man is a solution.

He had a little peaked hat, like the Chinese or similar on, however came off an I hung on bush.

This man had some tools. I cannot believe these trucks only had one broken shovel between all of them, there had to be at least 25 trucks. This is why I say they do not plan ahead. They do have these steel planks, however not much of solution for the major problems, you need 10 shovels, and 10 axes minimum to pay and work your way through this mess.

Note the big U.N. Trucks would just plow around in their SUVs and not stop; these trucks are loaded with food and supplies!

I helped on two of the paths, carried many stones; however, the bus drivers are not very smart and cannot really deal with this type of problem. The truck driver are even more addle brained and as best I can tell there is no road crews working twenty four hours to fix this, so they plow into the hills hoping to go, then follow the leader.

This man is a solution.

This is some soldier type man who was actually trying to think, me the man in black with the tools and the Soldier man all three decided to start on the path that worked. The bus drivers and many other chose the wrong path, however, the old man, I did not take a photo, plus a small worker, and a few that could see this problem clearly chose the correct route. Sadly, all of the routes could have worked if they would take the 200 people standing around and tell them to get to work.

Pusee is the word in French for PUSH. I am not going to say what I think of them; however, it rhymes with the word.

I was trying to get translated.
Get off your lazy A#%es and help!

There were many with cell phones, one with a Satellite Phone, and many what I would say are leader of this nation, note the one French Girl with Black boyfriend in tow did not help, and either did the ugly French lady coming from Arlit, everyone just looks at this as somebody else save me, the problem with the world, nobody will get dirty.

I think I could have solved this quickly if I spoke French, I was very angry with the lazy people on the buses that would just sit there. I do have to admit there were some very big fat women on the bus with children. This is the class system of Niger at work, nobody wants to work now.

The Soldier came up to my window and he hope my travel were good, we shook hands and said goodbye.

I took photos of the man above; we were out in front of the bus as it plowed through our path we made successfully. He came and shook my hand; I took a couple of photos of him. He was not even on my bus; he was a man from nowhere that came out of nowhere to help. He saw a problem and realized it needed a solution, and he knew the solution. The solution was too easy.


He worked, I worked, the Soldier worked, however we were all looking and anticipating problems, consequences, thinking ahead. While one huge truck full of food and supplies plowed into a bank of sand around us.

I see this man in black as a hero a man to emulate, and man to venerate to make a boss, hopefully to believe that being the boss is to work more to be the example for many, to set the pace. I kept working myself; I tried to set a pace so the other would not stop. I was thirsty and had no water, I did not want to sleep on this bus with a bunch of fat women, they eat too much meat and they stink.

Self-preservation is a big motivation for me also, however we got our bus through, I am sure a few other made it down the hill; I doubt any made it up the hill.

I saw a bulldozer of Cat Brand in the village of Tanhoua as we drove through, I am not sure what is happening, I do not understand why, sometimes you think, why do you jump up and down on your thingy, why do not you work together. There is not this poor nice person here that helps his neighbor; they are all just helping themselves. Sadly, it seems simple, 200 people standing around can move a mountain, and a bus would be simple to push out of the sand with 200 people.

The organization that could solve the problems of Niger has been here for hundreds of years that are obvious.


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I read in some survival book that the best way of getting your veichle out of deep sand is to let the air out of the tyres. This gives a larger surface area, and works a bit like a catapillar track on a tank or a bulldozer.

Not having a veichle or a local desert (or beach), I haven't tried it yet...

That's right -- but they wouldn't have any way of getting that air back into the tires when past the obstacle.

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