Confiscated motorbikes strand drivers without compensation [Archives:2007/1015/Reportage]

January 11 2007

By: Almigdad Dahesh
[email protected]
For the Yemen times

Motorists who gain their family's livelihood on motorbikes are threatened to be jobless because they are having their motorbikes confiscated by police under the rule of motorbikes polluting environment and disturbing people. The Committee of Motorists Compensation has compensated more than five hundred motorists.

Many families in Sana'a and outside Sana'a live on the money that the head of the household gains by working on their motorbikes.

“I'm a twelve-members family and our only livelihood resource is this motorbike and if I stop even for three days, my family and I'll never find anything to live on,” said Ahmed Suma'e, a 45 year-old motorist and a father of nine children. “I left my family in the village and came to Sana'a to work and bring in their needs. I have no any other job to live in and the prices go up everyday at the same time, the state wants us to leave our motorbikes. So, what can we do?”

Most of the motorists are neither civil servants nor militant servants. They rely on their motorbikes to gain money and provide the needs of their families.

“I have no governmental position and nothing to live on other than this motorbike. We are really frustrated; we don't know how to face the daily prices hikes, the unemployment or the stifling and fierce procedures against us,” Nagi Moftah explains. ” I'm a family of seven people three of them are students in schools and I have to pay YR 10,000 per month as rent and costs of electricity and water. How can I live with my family if the police take my motorbike?”

It's not just the adults who will be out of work. Many school students and aged 16 to 19 work on motorbikes.

“I'm a student in the school and I'm orphan and responsible for my family. I have to study and work at the same time because I don't want to drop out from the school. I attend the scientific periods only and when they finish I go to work on the motorbike,” said Jamil Hasan.

During the last few weeks police forces confiscated many motorbikes and now the owners of these motorbikes are idle and out of work. At the same time, motorists don't expect the state to compensate them.

“My motorbike was confiscated two weeks ago and now I'm idle and don't know how I'll be able to provide the essential needs of my family,” said Abdu M. Alkalisi, a 35 year-old motorist. “I don't think that I will be compensated and in case they compensate me, their compensation will do nothing for a family of eight members.”

Ali Alfahd, a 43 year-old motorist and a family of ten people, said,”If the government wants to confiscate our motorbikes, it should compensate us by providing job opportunities. We are compelled to work on these motorbikes under this burning sun just because we have families and we haven't any other alternatives.”

Ahmed Husain, a 28 year-old motorist, said,” The officials want to confiscate the only resource of our children's livelihood just because we disturb them by the sounds of the motorbikes. I think that they would rather think of how our families will live after the confiscation of our motorbikes.”

On the other hand some people agree on confiscating motorbikes. Ayid Mohammed, 67, said, “The motorists disturb us so much especially in the evening. Sometimes they awake us after midnight. It is very difficult to stand their disturbance.”

Abdulwali Saleh a 23 year-old university student, said, “The motorbikes disturb me so much that if I stay at home, I can't study. So, I go to study in my classmates' houses. I think that the government should restrain them from working inside zones at least because there are students, patients and old people and the motorists disturb them.”

On the contrary, some other people stand with the motorists whereas some people appreciate the life situations of the poor motorists referring to sufferings and bad circumstances the motorists undergo such as the unemployment, the scarcity of the alternative opportunities, the constant prices hikes and poverty.

“I think that the government shouldn't treat the motorists in such a fierce way because they are citizens and this is their country. Is it their sin that they are poor and have no way but to work on motorbikes?” asked Abdullah Ali, a civil servant. ” I think that the motorists are ready to leave this work if the government provides them suitable alternatives.”

Shawqi Ameen, a company-employee said, “I receive YR 60,000 and it isn't enough though my home is mine and I have only four children; what about the motorists who rent a house and are responsible for five people at least? I think that the government should settle an account with the corrupters and let poor motorists live.”

When asking the authority side about the matter of the motorists and what are the main reasons for taking these decisions of confiscating the motorbikes, Najeeb Al-Matari the member of the Committee of Motorists Compensation, replied that there are many reasons for confiscating the motorbikes. The main concerns are environmental issues because the smoke of the motorbikes is poisonous and polluting and also that motorists don't wear helmets. They can work only from six am until six pm, but what we see is that they keep working until midnight. Consequently, they cause much and unbearable disturbance.

The committee constituted to assess the motorbikes and some kind of compensation for the motorists. When the motorbikes are confiscated, the motorist is enabled to choose between retrieving his motorbike and working outside Sana'a or taking the compensation which is between YR 66,000 and YR132,000.

The government is trying to offer alternative opportunities for the motorists. When the motorists lose their motorbikes they are given an application form to apply for a job as driver of street-trees irrigation cars, or supervisors of the street-cleaning laborers. But the problem is that when we ask them to choose between taking compensation and work with the secretariat of Sana'a city, and working outside the city of Sana'a, they choose to take their motorbikes and work outside Sana'a. Then, we discover that they come back to work in the city of Sana'a, according to Al-Matari, of the motorist committee.

However, many motorists deny receiving any compensation.

“The state never compensated us and we haven't received any kind of compensation. I'm now jobless and I don't know what to do,” Abdu M. Al-Kalesi said.

Ahmed Alarasi a 28 year-old motorist, said,” I have many motorbikes and three of them were confiscated and until now I haven't received any compensation though I went to the secretariat of the city of Sana'a, but with no avail.”

Regarding the alternative opportunities that the state offers for the motorists, the motorists complained that they face many difficulties.

Ziad Al-Harazi explained, “When I heard that we could get a governmental position against giving up this exhausting and harmful work, I felt happy and went directly to the secretariat of Sana'a city. But during the procedures I faced many hindrances and complications.”