Civic irresponsibility in Burkina Faso: example of the anarchical construction of speed bumps

Achille Sawadogo
2 min readJun 17, 2019
Speed bump made of clay

In popular jargon in Burkina Faso, they are called in french “gendarmes couchés” which literal translation is ‘lying police officers’. These are speed bumps, these bumps on the road to force users, especially motorists to slow down. They make it possible to limit accidents and save human lives when they are implemented in the state of the art. However, they can be very dangerous and lethal when the people themselves take the initiative to install them

In Burkina, Decree №2012–1111 of 31/12/2012 issued by the Council of Ministers sets the design and construction standards for speed bumps. It makes an inventory of the different types of speed bumps and establishes the construction methods. The speed bumps market is offered to professionals who do the work in the state of the art. However, non-standard speed bumps sprout like mushrooms on roads in Burkina Faso. They are most often encountered on unpaved roads. They are illegally installed by people who do not take into account the normal dimensions of construction or who do not take care to install a sign to warn users. Consequences: frequent road accidents with the result of many loss of life. Even if the Burkinabè government had begun in May 2018, an operation of demolition of speed bumps built anarchically on asphalted roads or not, it is clear that the continuous populations to erect them.

“Speed ​​bumps to reduce dust”: is this a valid reason?

Speed bump in a city entrance

For some inhabitants of Ouagadougou, the installation of these speed bumps acts as a breath of fresh air. “I live in Guikofê [neighborhood of the city of Ouagadougou]. There is too much dust; people are spinning with their gear. Yet the roads pass people’s courts. If there were no speed bumps, we would not be able to keep up. The speed bumps that the government sets up are only located on the national roads. We cannot do otherwise”.

The speed of users combined with the unpaved road structure can only cause a permanent state of dust. On the other hand, installing speed bumps anarchically is also the cause of many accidents. It is a dilemma situation that only the government can solve. It’s up to them to deploy their technicians in the cities of Burkina to set up quality speed bumps to the delight of the inhabitants, while securing the lives of users. Otherwise, equipped with their shovels and picks, the populations will continue to do as they wish, to the great displeasure of road users…



Achille Sawadogo

Mandela Washington Fellow, for Young African Leaders — Civic engagement — Development Cooperation, Economist, Project Management skills, Free learner