Bad Engineering or Bad Management? [Archives:1998/34/Focus]

August 24 1998

It is raining cats and dogs these days almost all over Yemen. Many governorates have witnessed heavy rains which have claimed the lives of many people and resulted in immense damage to livestock, topsoil and other material loss. Damage was also inflicted on farmlands, homes, roads, utilities and other infrastructure. In this respect, I am not able to calculate the exact cost of the damage because of the heavy rains and the resultant flash floods in many parts of the country. That is up to the government and other bodies.
But I want to ask some questions. Why do the streets of the capital Sanaa turn to rivers and lakes whenever we have rains? Why do dams, homes and streets collapse and break down? What is wrong with our engineering?
The ministry of Construction, Housing and Urban Planning is the target of my questions. I think when we decide to build a house, a road or other construction, we should have a plan done by civil engineers.
Architectural professionals must give their okay before the project is carried out. The idea of how to drain off rain water from the streets should be taken into account beforehand. It is necessary to study the direction of water-flow and accordingly make routers for it. Dams and streets will not fall down if they are built well. Frankly speaking, one really feels ashamed of walking or driving on the streets of the capital. What a nice smell we get when sewerage are mixed with the waters of the rains!
Given the rise in the level of rainwater, one feels that he/she needs a boat rather a car to navigate through our streets. Unfortunately, it is a river of dirt and sewage. It is unbelievable to realize that so many cars have sunk. Where? In the streets of the capital. What fun?
On another count, Yemen is a country that suffers from shortage of water. Most of the cities of the country are at the grip of thirst. Therefore, many citizens who are bombarded with government statements about the water shortage in the country are bewildered that we are not doing much to utilize all this water pouring down.
It is high time the authorities did something to find a way-out to the problems caused by the heavy rains. We badly need a long-term plan to the rain-floods. The contractor/s that build the streets of the capital, the sewer projects, and the dams that collapsed should be held accountable for a bad job.
That is one side of the problem. The other thing is that the municipality office has a share in the blame. It has not stopped the random construction of houses which are sometimes located on riverbeds and the way of torrent floods.
Finally, the concerned authority should do something to improve our streets. Our streets should be well built and clean. If this happens, we would be proud to call Sanaa a historical city or a city of civilization. Our words should go hand in hand with our actions.
I know some officials would complain there isn’t enough money. If need be, our government can sell the thousands of cars of its officials and their families drive around, and thus congest our streets. It is actually better for them to walk on foot on clean and beautiful streets than to drive on filthy ones.
Will the people in charge learn a good lesson and do something now. We shall wait and see.
By: Mohammed H. Al-Qadhi
Assistant Managing Editor
Yemen Times