We Caused the Traffic Jam on the Carrera Septima in Bogota!

Chances are, if you were stuck in a traffic jam along the Carrera Septima in Bogota yesterday between 1pm and 2pm it was due to the actions of a SITP bus driver scraping alongside my Ford Ecosport whilst attempting to cut across three lanes and escape the congestion.

A stupid maneuver resulted in the bus hitting me

A stupid maneuver resulted in the bus hitting me

What a palaver.

The bus driver rolled up her window, refused to alight and talk to us and radioed in the problem to her depot, a few policemen hopped across the central reservation on the Septima and called in the problem to the Transit Police.

So good so far I suppose. Oh how wrong I was.

The traffic, piled up and I can only imagine stretched from Calle 82 probably right back into the Candelaria. People shouted at us, thoroughly unpleasant statements were made. My reaction to this was, “dude, I did not plan to be hit by an empty bus”.

But, everything started to unravel.

The transit police had been called and not surprisingly did not arrive for an hour. In fact, the officer who did arrive was en route elsewhere and decided to get things moving. So, we were attended to by an officer who had not been requested. His first statement:

“Why are you stopped, this is nothing, what do you want from this?”

The "understanding" Officer Carlos Ortiz

The “understanding” Officer Carlos Ortiz

Rather than pick a fight I just let him get on and measure the distances between the vehicles, the vehicles from the street and so on. Frankly, if he had tried to express greater disinterest he couldn’t have achieved it.

So Carlos Ortiz, Officer number 62006 reluctantly went about his job and continued to belittle our situation.

Finally, I had had enough.

“Officer, I would like to ask for you “comprension” in this situation. You need to understand the stress and the situation we are dealing with here.”

“What do you want from me?” he responds.

“Well, 75 per cent of your job is public relations, I expect you to be more understanding of the situation and to help us out.”

“You want me to suggest how much the bus owes you? That’s between the driver and you.”

“No, what I am hoping is that we can have this accident recorded and we can move on with our lives. But, you need to be more understanding.”

“Yes,” says Officer Carlos Ortiz, “I am a real bundle of laughter.”

Consorcio Express SAS

Consorcio Express SAS

So, my first encounter with the “understanding” traffic police in Bogota during an accident when I am the injured party. I will certainly think twice about being in contact with them again.


So finally, the official from the Transmilenio bendy bus system which now oversees the SITP service, arrived. Of course, this accident has nothing to do with them since they are the “umbrella organization” and have leased out this franchise to the company Consorcio Express SAS. So, already, there is no one upon whom I can pin the blame. Who is going to respond for the damage to my left tail lights? The telltale trail of Colombian bureaucracy raised its ugly head once again.

So, I am complaining. There are principles here!

If the Transit Police respond saying that there are not enough officials to tend to every accident, then, employ more, we all know that the city needs it.

Why did Officer Carlos Ortiz not take my name nor ID number? Presumably, because he did not care. I have his mobile phone number and should I ask for the report regarding this accident, I’d gamble good money that it does not exist.  

Say cheese! The unhelpful bus driver

Say cheese! The unhelpful bus driver

The bus driver visibly paled when we gestured to the security cameras along the Carrera Septima which will undoubtedly prove her guilt. Why did she think that she could slide across three lanes like this? Who knows?

So, what have I learned from this event?

Don’t trust the police, don’t drive and don’t expect compensation. Perhaps I should get a horse?

Watch this space, tomorrow I am going to try and contact the company involved.

About Richard

Anglo-Canadian resident in Colombia. Journalist, Writer, Hotelier, Expedition Guide
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8 Responses to We Caused the Traffic Jam on the Carrera Septima in Bogota!

  1. ojavier says:

    i heard it was traffic from calera to bogota yesterday, it was you fault?

  2. sfoswald says:

    Astonishing. When I'm back in Bogota, I plan on just using a old banged up car. That way if I get hit it'll cause them more stress than me. Good to hear you're OK. BTW, nice pictures.

  3. Daniel Brody says:

    Your patience in methodically describing what is so annoying about this situation impresses me. I would have chucked my computer out a window before writing anything this coherent about dealing with such unhelpful and shameless people. These kinds of unresponsive bureaucrats are one of the most irritating things about day-to-day life in Bogota, and you captured the essence of the kind of powerlessness one feels here when there is just no recourse. If nobody compensates you for your broken tail lights, I hope you at least pester some paper-pusher to the brink with your complaints!

    • Richard says:

      Thank you Daniel. I have been working to calm myself and I guess that I am just really surprised that I have not been in an accident sooner. 7 years in this traffic madness is a long time! I have found the phonenumber of the bus company in question and I am going to be obtuse and unhelpful to them over the phone. I wonder if I should be a text pest to the transit policemen since I have his cellphone number as well.

  4. Gareth says:

    You confirm all of my worst fears about traffic accidents here Richard. I really don't understand why they do the whole "measuring up" thing when the only outcome is that the traffic cop sits and waits for the two drivers to settle up between them in cash. This involves the drivers staring into the middle distance for a good hour, oblivious to the city that is grinding to an even greater halt behind them. This was one of the motivations for getting a bit of a heap of a car – my sister-in-law rides a bicycle that cost more than our 1984 Merc, lol!

    • Richard says:

      It was an exercise in futility and patience Gareth. Absolutely incorrigible behaviour from the Transit Police and absolute indifference from the bus driver. I am thinking of lodging a complaint…but, then…what it anything will come of it.

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