Get on the bus? I’d rather not, if I can help it! [Archives:2008/1191/Community]

September 18 2008

By: Shafiqa A. Fakir
English Language Instructor
University of Aden
[email protected]

I have nothing against bus drivers – except that they drive me CRAZY! There are way too many buses roaming the narrow streets of Aden.

Of course, the service they provide is invaluable. Just imagine waiting and waiting for a bus in the sultry heat of a summer afternoon in Aden. No way! If you're from a city like Aden where the summer temperature is 30+ degrees Celsius, you can understand what I mean. You can't even imagine such a thing.

For this very reason, I am grateful that there are too many buses rather than too few.

However, among these “too many” buses, many are in poor repair and lack even basic parts such as headlights, taillights and functional turn signals.

Too many buses also creates problems, as the streets become congested with them and they vie against each other for passengers along the road. On various occasions, the instant a bus driver spots someone waving to him on the road, he abruptly brings his vehicle to a halt, with little notice to other vehicles or regard for the safety of neither his passengers nor pedestrians.

Reckless driving by many bus drivers is an issue of extreme concern, as well as a cause of accidents because they stop their buses anywhere and everywhere. They swerve, tailgate, overtake, cut in, change lanes, speed up and slow down – all without sufficient warning to other vehicles or pedestrians. What a nightmare!

However, the absolute worst nightmare is at intersections, where all traffics laws are brutally violated. “If you stop here and wait for others to go, you'll spend your life at this intersection,” I heard one bus driver comment as he slammed on his brakes and cut in front of another vehicle.

These buses can be great nuisance, too. I vividly recall the day I got on one bus and tore the sleeve of my new black abaya on a metal spring popping out of one of its shabby seats. The incident left both a bitter memory and tear a beyond repair on my abaya, ruining it for good. I wanted to shake the driver who with a mouth full of qat and a cigarette between his fingers sat oblivious to the damage that had just occurred.

For this reason, you can't imagine my delight anytime I board a clean and tidy bus, which, by the way, is extremely rare. Normally, bus seats tend to be stained, dirty, and worst of all, smell something like a dead fish, especially on hot summer days. Clean buses are a treat, believe me!

So, what should be done? I can't and won't even try to answer this question. I'll simply wait for the day when we have more stop signs, speed limit signs, traffic lights and most importantly, drivers who strictly adhere to traffic laws. And I'll await the day when these laws are enforced daily against those who break them.

Finally, I'll wait for the day when bus drivers become more conscious of both safety and cleanliness and quit doing whatever they please.

Now, close your eyes and picture all of this actually happening in our cities. What do you see?