Day 34… Friday 5th May
Our route to Faranah took us up a windy mountain road with very little traffic. The road was being repaired and passed lots of construction workers and Chinese site compounds. Slow going with huge potholes. Drive time today of 6 hours. Not much progress. Only 3 police stops today – the first asked for some breakfast. The last stop had 6 officers surround the vehicle and ask for the following:
- Driving licence
- Insurance (brown card)
- Yellow fever vaccination certificate
- 2 triangles
- Fire extinguisher
- First aid kit.
This is the first thorough check we have had but no attempt at bribes. Another hotel tonight due to limited campsite options.
Guinea’s road infrastructure is such that if it were the veins of a living person, then this person would be barely alive and in serious need of some medical attention.
From all reports I had heard Guinea had predominantly dirt roads. So far only one of the roads we have travelled so far, Gaoual to Boke, was a bumpy, pothole strewn wreck of a dirt road which has since been described to us by locals as being very bad.
The remainder of the roads are of mixed quality, albeit seemingly quite old. I do not know when the majority of these roads were laid, perhaps during the French occupation, or sometime later. Whilst their roads are saved the destruction caused by snow and ice in British winters they are instead torn apart by the violent rains which wash through the country.
The roads, where they do exist, are fraying badly at the edges, crumbling to narrow strips, in parts only wide enough for one car to traverse. In other parts the road is strewn with large deep potholes or has been washed away entirely.
This results in you having to weave on and off the road to avoid the potholes, but even with careful planning the odd one catches you by surprise or you perhaps brake a bit too late resulting in a violent interaction with it.
There is positive news though as some new roads have appeared, with a strong Chinese presence in the country. Whilst lacking road markings or crash barriers, the new road surfaces are much safer and hopefully last a while yet. Although previous history on the continent let’s hope these roads span the nation rather than only to key locations of importance to the Chinese.
I also fear that they may once again remain unmanaged for another several decades, left to decay and ruin, further inhibiting Guinea’s weak economic potential.