Iron traffic flow strips deflate car tires – and more [Archives:2007/1044/Reportage]

April 23 2007
Drivers complain about unseen signs and new types of barriers. Speed bumps placed next to iron tire deflator strips cause additional damages. 	Photos by Nasri Al-Saqqaf
Drivers complain about unseen signs and new types of barriers. Speed bumps placed next to iron tire deflator strips cause additional damages. Photos by Nasri Al-Saqqaf
Nasri Abu-Baker Al-Saqqaf
[email protected]
and Nisreen Shadad

A new phenomenon has cropped up on several streets around Sana'a. Iron tire deflator strips have been laid across certain streets to prevent cars from traveling in both directions on these roads. By order of the Sana'a traffic administration and the Ministry of General Labor, they were built to alleviate traffic accidents and congestion; however, according to drivers, such barriers have made the situation worse.

Cars used to pass along these roads peacefully from both directions. However, in an effort to decrease overcrowding and accidents, the traffic administration built these types of barriers, such as the one on Al-Itha'a Street (Radio Broadcast Street) beside the Civil Service Office and on Al-Siteen Street.

Drivers find it easier to drive on such roads at night because they're practically empty; however, the problem remains, whether at night or during the day. One driver explained, “We were going to Al-Thawra Hospital at 2 a.m. when our car tires suddenly blew out. Upon getting out of the car to look at the tires, we discovered the iron barrier. We were forced to leave our car and search for any car passing that way in order to aid our patient.”

Car mechanic Ibrahim Aqlan says most drivers try to find repair shops, but are compelled to pay a lot for new tires. According to drivers, such damage isn't repaired easily, except at specific repair shops in Nuqum.

Aqlan added, “The number of cars damaged is no less than five per day, with no less than three tires blown out on each car. Such damage is beyond repair, so drivers are forced to buy new ones rather than repair them.”

Amer Al-Zuraiqi, a pharmacy employee who lives on Al-Itha'a Street, said angrily, “I see terrorism existing in these iron barriers. Every day, I hear the sounds of car tires blowing because drivers are unaware of the existence of such barriers. They are driving along peacefully and then suddenly, they hear the bursting of their tires. They shout and cry, but none of the traffic officers respond to find a solution to their complaints.”

Such barriers also don't prevent accidents. “Every day, we see many accidents occurring on Al-Itha'a Street,” points out Amin Masoud, one resident along that street.

Dentist Zaid Isaq notes, “The reason for building these barriers is to prevent vehicles from Al-Itha'a Street or Kuwait Street from cutting through to 26 Street. However, this new solution has brought more troubles, as cars are not prevented from using this street. Drivers find minor roads as a way leading them to 26 Street instead of using larger, more public ones. Added to this is the bursting of tires these barriers have caused for hundreds of cars.”

Ishaq continued, “Within the first weeks of building this barrier, we couldn't even sleep because of the sound of cars driving over it. This sound not only annoys residents of these streets, it also frightens drivers, who think a large explosion has occurred near them.”

Due to citizen complaints, the traffic administration subsequently built speed bumps (matabat in Arabic) in order to compel drivers to slow down when driving on such streets. However, because they were built near the deflator barriers, they damaged cars passing in both the right and wrong directions, according to Ishaq.

“I remember one bus driver was about to cry when examining his tires that were blown in front of him because such damage isn't reparable. Therefore, he had to buy new ones,” Ishaq recounted.

“These barriers and speed bumps have created problems rather than solved them. I was driving in the right direction, but then my tire blew out,” driver Mohammed Al-Zarqua maintained.

However, his friend Mohammed said Al-Zarqua was driving at a speed so that his tire blew out somehow” As one traffic officer comments, “Those drivers who violate traffic rules must be responsible for their faults. The authority has erected signs indicating that certain streets are only one way, but they aren't heeded.

“Moreover, traffic officers working to prevent drivers from violating the rule and stopping them from going both directions have become exposed to attack from National Council members' guards. We can't prevent them,” he lamented.

Yahya Shabbill, general director of the Sana'a Traffic Office, explains, “The main reason to build such barriers is owing to the crowding created by violating vehicles when disrespecting the directions on roads. We affixed signs indicating no driving on particular streets; however, it was in vain. We also stationed traffic officers to stop vehicles from passing, but that didn't solve the problems either.”

He notes, “Most of those we suffer from are National Council members because they are the first to violate the rules. Even with such barriers, we can't prevent them from driving in the opposite direction on Al-Itha'a street. They now use the pavement as a street to pass through.

“Observing the proper directions and street lanes may take a few minutes longer, but it will save driver hours wasted due to the crowding that is occurring,” Shabbily adds, “The reason for such vehicle damages and losses are drivers' violations.

“In the future, we'll build speed bumps farther from iron barriers so as not to damage car tires. Moreover, we're going to erect much larger signs to help drivers see them and save their cars,” he indicated, concluding, “Ultimately, we're forced to make such barriers for the general welfare.”

Ayid Al-Shamyri, general director of labor in Sana'a, says, “Currently, the number of these barriers is limited, but we plan to build 15 to 20 more in various locations, depending on the importance of the location itself, as well as the number of accidents occurring there. Up until now, we've only erected two or three barriers, implementing them according to the administration of municipality traffic officers.”

He adds, “We aren't informed of nor do we pay any compensation for damages. Even when something does occur, it's due to driving fast or not seeing the signs. Just driving over such barriers won't cause huge damage.”

As Al-Shamyri describes, there are many ways to compel drivers to slow down, including speed bumps and other types of impediments; however, many citizens violate the rules. According to him, the best way to save citizens' lives is for drivers to be aware of and respect traffic rules.