A tragedy called “The traffic system in Yemen” [Archives:2004/724/Opinion]

March 25 2004

By Adel al-Motakel
[email protected]

Sana'a being the Arab cultural 2004 deserves better attention to earn its title, especially when it comes to the traffic system. Is what is happening in the traffic and by the traffic authorities natural? Or is there a need for revision and rectification.
People are fed up of corruption, blackmailing and looting. And whenever a traffic officer stops a car the consequences would be the driver bribing the officer and getting away with the violation, as if the officer's job is everything else but to ensure order of traffic and safety of passengers.
There is another problem in the traffic system and that is implementing the specifications and standards on the vehicles. If the driver buys his way through regardless the status and condition of his vehicle, what results is the existence of huge number of vehicles outside the standards and specifications, a fact that made air pollution a special aspect of Sana'a.
I wonder how our Yemeni lungs are still working in the middle of this pollution and I suggest granting the international award to our (miracle) lungs and including them in Guiness Book of Records.
We as Muslims believe in fate, but truly, there are many traffic accidents which could have been prevented if the performance of the authorities- whom you know – was as it should be.
If you examine the reasons of the accidents you will discover that most of them happen due to burned-out head lights or rotten tires or incompetent drivers. What is tragic is the number of under-aged drivers without licenses. What's worse is that some of them have license and the question is “How did they get them?”.
Another complaint related to the traffic system is the microbuses and their drivers. Are all the drivers really qualified to serve the citizens? Truly I don't think so. Nowadays we have got used to the rudeness and disrespect of the drivers (of course not all of them) towards the passengers, especially towards the women and old people, which made riding the microbus an unsafe adventure and an un-enjoyable experience through which one's dignity and self esteem is likely to be shattered. For some of the drivers take pleasure in insulting passengers, and do not care about their feelings and their preferences, for example, regarding the loud awful music they keep playing all the time regardless of the passengers' comfort.
In addition to the dirt and dust that covers most of the taxis and public transport cars, the seats are usually so small it feels they were designed for children, and tall people crumble in their seats wishing for the journey to end as soon as possible.
These observations are quite obvious to anyone with eyes, and it's a small part of the suffering and the troubles people face in the streets. It is high time the related authorities do something about it instead of isolating themselves and burying their heads in the sand while the outside world is looking in and keeping track of everything and the external media is reporting every little and big thing there is.