We’re on the Road to Nowhere. ..

Talking Heads’ lyrics spring to mind as I gaze at the crumbling facade of the railway station in Dakar.

    No where it seems is as true as here. When I first ventured to West Africa in 2005, I had some romantic notion of travelling by train…some hopes as virtually all rail lines in West Africa are long defunct.  Even the line from Dakar to Bamako in Mali ceased to operate in 2009 following  the terrorist  attacks. 

    The news that a new railway line was to be built from Dakar’s new airport (some 60km away), seemed to be welcome news. However, the reality on the ground seems far removed…

    The pictures of a TGV style train (actually the TER  – Train Express Regional)  are encouraging. Sleek with all mod cons i.e. WiFi and aircon, this would bring a welcome relief for passengers who currently have to endure the basic facilities at Yoff.

    Whether the Senagalise will be able to match the sucess of their cousins in Morrocco and Tunisia in building an efficient rail network remains to be seen, I certainly hope so. 

    However, whilst I hate to be a detractor of African ambitions, it does seem that major infrastructure projects are fated to be late and fail to deliver their promises. 

    Point in case, is the Grand Theatre National and the newer Musee des  Civilisations Noires,  both built by the Shanghai Construction Company…the latter still incomplete. 

    How the railway will fare remains to be seen; the latest estimate for the opening of the airport being 2019.

    I look forward to travelling on this in the future. 

    Refrain…”We’re on the Road to Nowhere, come on inside. Taking that ride to nowhere,  we’ll take that ride”


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