For a beautiful city [Archives:2007/1031/Viewpoint]

March 8 2007

Our capital city is experiencing a makeover these days. Led by Governor Yahya Al-Shuaibi, a campaign to beautify the city and remove traces of construction and other disturbing scenes is yielding its first fruits as I write. The campaign includes removing chaotic markets and construction, expanding the city's green areas and holding environmental awareness events. These were highlighted at the National Environmental Day celebrated last week.

Sana'a is a beautiful city that has improved noticeably during the past few years, becoming cleaner and more attractive. However, construction violations still are visible and regular. Not only do some individuals fail to remove the traces of their construction from the main road, which causes problems for traffic and pedestrians, government workers, while doing their digging and infrastructure development, also cause a lot of mess due to lack of organization and time sensitivity.

A new law has been publicized via official media about trucks carrying garbage or construction materials. The law restricts movement of such containers to nighttime and then only with a licence. If a driver violates this, he will be fined YR 10,000. To encourage traffic officers and citizens to report such violations, anyone reporting a violation of this law will awarded YR 5,000.

There seems to be a vision for how the capital city could be. Government offices and the municipality are trying to improve the way the city looks and it's time citizens also took the initiative.

The financial rewards published in official newspapers are a way to encourage citizens; however, there must be internal motivation by citizens themselves. Yemenis mostly are careless about their environment and the place in which they live.

There was a project in Qatar called “Green Doha,” wherein school students were encouraged via extracurricular activities to plant trees and clean up their neighborhoods. The project's most recent activity was to cooperate with traffic officers to distribute flower saplings to citizens on the streets in order to encourage a sense of greenery and plantation. It would be a good idea to start a similar initiative in Yemen.

Even if limited to the capital city to start with, a number of saplings could be given to citizens, who in turn could plant them somewhere in their homes or neighborhoods or even their workplaces or schools. This way, Yemenis would be encouraged to appreciate nature and help protect it.