Friday, February 20, 2009

Today you have pain, tomorrow you will have joy.

This morning (19th of Feb 2009) I had the privilege to ride a motorcycle on the Penang Bridge from the mainland to the Penang Island. The Penang bridge requires the users to pay a toll of RM7.00 (the payment is only collected at mainland side).

You may ask what is so special about riding a bike on the Penang bridge.

You would agree with me when I tell you that you will be able to witness a great phenomenal reality framed in time. Exact to the words I used, the scenario was indeed a framed picturesque.

About 2 kilometers before reaching the toll booths, we can see lines of vehicles queuing up. You must note all the details here. When I say lines it doesn’t mean straight lines but a little jagged. Okay, I can hear those who use the bridge on daily basis will not agree with the term jagged, they prefer to say “interlaced” lines……in simple English, it means vehicles cutting into other lanes indiscriminately ….. you want a more appropriate word….erratically. There are 20 toll booths. Simple maths, you should have 20 lanes, but in Malaysia “toll collection” technology”, we have 7 lanes with 20 booths. It is neither innovative nor extraordinary but, rather a practical way of making you feel that you are moving fast, where in fact you are at the same place for a very long time.

After paying the toll, the 7 lanes magically become 2 lanes. This is where you will find your “squeeze yourself” skill come into play. You will see small cars tip toeing in between 2 big vehicles. At one moment I was wondering whether the small car was actually small or it became small after being squeezed by the big vehicles.

With all the acrobatic maneuvers, you will see victorious drivers smiling when they take the lead and enter into the 2 lanes.

This is the normal life you will see on the Penang Bridge, but this morning it was quite different. I am sure all have heard about the bridge expansion project. They are building the 3rd lane. At the mainland area, there is an approximate 2-3 kilometers of 3rd lane ready for use. This morning the short span of the 3rd lane was opened. Yet, the vehicles were queuing up and to be specific, it was even worse than the normal days.

This is where my privilege of going on the bike prevailed. I managed to dance using my bike and swam through the thick piles of vehicles with a smoothness of a silkworm. Throughout the path till I reach the toll booths, I saw very little movement of the vehicles. Simple logic, there must be something holding everyone at the other side of the bridge.

My bike was still breathing well and had youthful energy to dance and swim again. From the 7 lanes area, I am now at the new 3rd lane area. I was indeed very proud to be on the newly built 3rd lane. My thoughts paused and thought for a while, why aren’t the vehicles moving even with the opening of the 3rd lane? To know the answer, I know that I had to move forward.

As I moved further I saw the 3rd lane coming to an end I can see the vehicles merging into the old 2 lanes. Although this can be a cause of the slow traffic, I still thought there should be another better (worse) reason. After traveling another 4 kilometers, the 2 lane traffic was forced to merge and be 1 single lane. And this is the main reason why the entire traffic on the Penang bridge was damn slow.

I wonder whether the contractors were trying to equal the equation, you add the 3rd lane in the front and deduct 1 lane from the existing 2 lanes in order to make the equation equal. Not to disturb the “ying yang” of the bridge I guess.

I was fortunate to be on the bike today and not as frustrated as the guys in the vehicles that were either not moving or just moved a little. Since I was always moving, I didn’t feel the boredom that could lead to frustration, anger and violence.

I can smile and write this with cheers because I could see the entire scenario from the beginning to the end. I hope we all can bear these kind of frustrations a little longer till they get the entire 3rd lane opened completely.

If you add something, then you should subtract something… make it equal.

Today you have pain, tomorrow you will have joy.

By the way, the picture of the Penang Bridge is a dream situation which every user would like to see.