Motorbikes & Pollution [Archives:1998/07/Culture]

February 16 1998

in Taiz
By Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, Taiz
It is a global truth that people’s health in any society is measured by the existence of a healthy and clean environment in their habitats. On this basis, we find that all countries in the world spare no effort to make their environments clean and free from pollution. Yes, pollution! This horrible nightmare poisons our mother earth and will gradually make life on it impossible.
I will now focus on a very disturbing phenomenon in Taiz. By this, I mean the problem relating to two-wheelers. One cannot fail to notice such a large number of motorbikes all over city. They were there before the unification, but disappeared for a few years. Then, they came back again, like the phoenix. We cannot fail to realize the fact that this problem has many ramifications. First, they represent a large source of air pollution due to the continuous emitting of smoke from their exhaust pipes into our atmosphere. In such a smoky environment, it becomes difficult to breath with ease. Some may say that the noxious fumes from these motorbikes have not reached a dangerous level. If we count the number of motorbikes in Taiz along with the old cars, we will discover that the problem is unbearable and begs urgently for a solution.
Another aspect of this problem is that these motorbikes are loud and very disturbing wherever they go. The annoying sound continues for a long time no matter how far away from you they go. In this way, they are also a source of noise pollution. With the passage of time, the people of Taiz will become deaf and insensitive to the softer sounds. Worse than this, the motorcyclists have radios with them, which double the noise they create. Furthermore, they race for fun, forgetting that they are putting innocent people in danger and driving them crazy with the noise.
It should also be said that this menace has generated the indignation of all the people in Taiz. This statement is based on a survey I took, in which 98% of the people were unhappy and fed up with these motorbikes and their noise that reaches all ears. This is because they are able to go almost anywhere, even through alleys, annoying everyone while they are resting and relaxing. In addition, it is not only Yemenis who are complaining, but also foreigners are disturbed by all these motorbikes. Several times, many Indian University professors have come to discuss this problem with me. From what they have told me, it seems that they are also very much annoyed with the motorbikes.
Another dangerous aspect that is less harmful than the previous ones are that these motorbikes can be used as quick getaways for thieves, robbers and the like. This is because they can maneuver through traffic quickly, circumventing all traffic obstacles. In doing this, they have been the cause of many accidents. A friend of mine once told me that he is afraid of going in the streets because of the hazards of confronting one of these motorbikes.
Another point that should be raised is the safety of the riders and the pillion riders. Some people see the motorbike as a quick means of transportation. Due to their crazy speeds, traffic accidents are common and are on the rise. Therefore, the safety of these people should be protected by some traffic measures. For example, helmets should be made compulsory and speed limits set.
In fact, the problems of these motorbikes are endless. Therefore, it is time the people in charge do something and find some solutions. They should take serious measures to tackle this problem. Practically speaking, the prevention of the movement of these motorbikes seems to be difficult right now because they are a source of livelihood for many people. However, they shouldn’t be left completely free. There needs to be some kind of organization of their movement. The most important thing that first needs to be done is to put silencers to spare the people of Taiz from deafness. Second, they should restrict the movement of these motorbikes to certain areas and only during certain times of the day. They cannot be allowed  to wander in all areas disturbing people at all hours, day and night ý We also found that motorcyclists are not bound to any traffic laws. I’m sure that they don’t even have drivers’ licenses. This is why we have even begun to see small children riding these motorbikes. Therefore, every rider must have a driver’s license and be given a rigorous test before obtaining this license. I keep my fingers crossed in the hope that my message will produce some action and not be ignored.