Why the long face?

2011-02-26 09:29

Is it just me or are Joburgers ­really grumpy? On the roads, at work, anywhere you go here, you’re bound to bump into a ­long-faced city dweller.

Just last week, I heard a story about a ­motorist who got out of her car at an intersection to Mace another ­motorist who cut her off in traffic.

We read of numerous other incidents of road rage on the city’s crowded roads, and one wonders whether the roads here are the very reason for our grumpiness.

The ­average Joburger has to either endure a nightmarish public transport ­system or an equally horrific road system, or both, very soon after he or she wakes up in the morning, and when going back home after a long workday.

This tedium ­continues for five or six days a week, every week.

Add to that a situation where ­individual residents are being ­incorrectly billed millions in rates, the high cost of living here and the fact that there are no safe, free ­public spaces for the population to relax and take in the humanity of their fellow citizens, and one may get a picture of just how stressed out Joburgers are.

Over the past few weeks, there has been stern criticism of and a public outcry against the state’s proposed e-tolling system in Gauteng.

We read in City Press last week that the bulk of the proceeds from the ­system, once implemented, will be pumped directly to an Austrian company called Kapsch TrafficCom for operating the ­system.

The firm boasts on its website: “Contract awards with total ­volume of €17 million in South Africa.”

Apparently, that R167?million is only the tip of the iceberg, and Kapsch is expected to receive more than R4 billion over the next few years.

That’s R4 billion of ­hard-earned, grumpy Joburger money going straight to Europe.

Cities in countries across the wealthy eurozone, including the Austrian capital Vienna, are ­renowned for having affordable, to-the-minute public transport systems.

When travelling there, one senses a relative calm in the citizenry, who know they are going to get where they need to be, on time.

Metro stations in these cities buzz with the mood of a generally ­content population.

This leads one to believe that some people’s general contentedness up North comes at the ­expense of others’ discontent down South.

To put it bluntly as a question: Why are Africans still paying for the comforts and ­luxuries of Europeans?

If Joburg carries on the way it’s going, I foresee the grumpiness of its population evolving into ­full-blown depression.

Will ­government then step in, through its various medical enterprises and Western pharmaceutical connections, to cash in on that too?

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