Roads in Taiz in Bad Shape [Archives:2001/47/Reportage]

November 19 2001

Farouk Al-Kamali
The majority of the roads in Taiz have been imperfectly built and, therefore, are in the process of completely falling apart. This deterioration is criticized by the President of the Republic. Millions of dollars are spent by the government in paving these roads instead of asphalting them. Under the absence of law to protect and maintain roads, no sense of attention is paid at all. As a result, these roads are exposed to heavy damage and destruction. So, the people in charge should be punished or at least be interrogated due to their carelessness.
Roads in Taiz
Roads in Taiz are a clear proof of the reigning corruption, inattention, and absence of proper planning. As a consequence, narrow streets are so hastily constructed that holes and cracks appear very rapidly. We are joking about our streets hasty completion. The reasons behind such carelessness are the lack of proper implementation and other causes including floods coming from Saber Mountain which inundate streets of the city. This problem has become more alarming as there is no draining channels to evacuate water. Actually, there is not even any coordination between the service offices and the bodies concerned.
Although some projects are successfully completed, other contractors or people come and destroy what was done by digging and refilling up holes in the streets again and again. The result is destruction and nothing else.
Another cause can be explain such careless work: centralization. This has greatly affected our offices and administrations in the governorate. Indeed, the majority of road projects is financed directly by the main office in the Ministry Public Works itself, and this without giving any notice to Public Works Office or Roads Authority in the city. We were really shocked to learn that the construction of some roads and streets are decided on a central level rather than locally. When these roads present huge damages, the people in charge in Taiz argue that repair is not their business but rather Public Works Office or Roads Authority’s responsibility. Consequently, the roads construction is the responsibility of the Ministry and Public Works Office but its task is restricted only to repair minor things, such as water pipes, telephone lines and so on.
Road Contractors
Specific construction companies, with which the Ministry of the Public Works makes legal contracts, are entitled to build roads. Regrettably, these companies do not have a great experience or required skills to set up the proper planning structure. In this respect, the Governor of the city criticized these companies by saying that they are incapable to build roads and therefore cannot obey to high international standards. Sana’a-Taiz road, for example, was completed by a skillful Chinese company. Till now, the road is still strong and appears not be affected by external factors. More than 30 years after its completion, we have not noticed any changes or maintenance works, while any street close to the southern Ring Road in Taiz shows signs of deterioration. This a clear evidence of a lack of maintenance and corruption among our local construction companies. Moreover, the majority of streets in Taiz are either undulating or full of cracks.
The General Manager of Roads and Bridges Corporation, Engineer Naser Al-Haikani, attributes the roads deterioration to the two sides, that is the government and the contractors. On one hand, the government sketches plans and asks local or foreign companies to start the construction. On the other hand, the construction phase comes and is always accompanied by misconceptions and failures. Among these are the following:
– Starting new projects which are not included in the framework of previous plans and are launched at the expense of other projects.
– Negligence and carelessness in the allocation of the financial budget.
– Hasty estimation of projects without enabling the building contractors to gain skills in the construction field by setting up practical experiences and other relevant training field surveys such as working force, equipment and financial support to provide them with the essential needs as quickly as possible.
The Engineer Khaled thought that rifts in the streets are a consequence of water leaking under the asphalted areas, as there is no protective layers under the asphalt. So, based on the observations made by the engineers in the city, the construction companies are held accountable for such damages and destructions.
The Projects Manager, Engineer Easa Al-Qubati, points out that the main cause to our street destruction is not only the excessive loads of vehicles but also the absence of supervision from the concerned bodies. This leads to the misuse of basic infrastructures, such as water draining structure, telephone and electricity cables, while asphalting main streets without any consideration for the damage caused to the sub-levels of main streets.
Southern Road Ring is a Clear Evidence of Negligence
The Ring Road in Taiz is a clear evidence of carelessness and imperfect construction of the road. The road was actually completed in two phases, the first inaugurated in 1993 and the second in 19996. It immediately reduced traffic jams but was partially damaged only a few months after its inauguration. The Engineer Easa Al-Qubati said that Saba Contracting Company followed the standards set by the Ministry of the Public Works and that engineers from the Ministry closely supervised the Ring Road construction. The main causes for such damage can be traced in the overflow of water in the road structure and in the broken pipes located beside. In short, the excessive loads of trucks and heavy rain resulted in the damage at the street edges.
Roads in the Villages
In Taiz, there is another alarming issue: the roads to the surrounding villages. The building process is often randomly carried out without proper planning. For example, Shara’ab road is a clear manifestation of such carelessness. These roads are repaired several times in a year but the same damages happen again and again. The Manager of Roads and Bridges clearly points out that the main cause of such snail-like projects is the unavailability of necessary equipments to successfully build such road projects and the lack of sufficient financial support. But the question which comes out is what are the solutions?
The topography of the city itself is a challenge and renders inadequate thin layers of asphalt. It necessitates instead a thick layer and a proper planning. Successful projects can be found when sub-levels of streets are paved some with flat stones. Perhaps, this is the best way to protect the city streets from being damaged by washouts.