Traffic chaos in Yemen [Archives:2004/729/Reportage]

April 15 2004
W r e c k e d   c a r   l i k e   t h i s   m a y   t e a c h   p e o p l e   n o t   t o   e x c e e d   t h e   s p e e d   l i m i t
W r e c k e d c a r l i k e t h i s m a y t e a c h p e o p l e n o t t o e x c e e d t h e s p e e d l i m i t
C o l .   M o h a m e d   M a n s o u r   A l - G h a d r a ,   D i r e c t o r - G e n e r a l   o f   T r a f f i c   P o l i c e   i n   S a n a  a
C o l . M o h a m e d M a n s o u r A l – G h a d r a , D i r e c t o r – G e n e r a l o f T r a f f i c P o l i c e i n S a n a a
Ismail Al-Ghabiri
There is no doubt that the increase of number of cars in Sana'a, the narrowness of many of Sana'a streets, the absence of parking lots, the absence of traffic lights and pedestrian signal lights and consequently intolerable traffic jams have become an unbearable phenomenon, negatively reflected on society.
Yemen Times' Ismail Al-Ghabri conducted the following report on traffic chaos in Sana'a:

Abdulwahab Al-Kuhlani emphasized the importance of beginning to embed traffic regulations and laws in the understanding of the young generation as the best means to improve the flow of traffic in the future. The traffic must become a focus at schools, homes, universities and mosques.
Col. Mohamed Mansour Al-Ghadra, Director-General of Traffic Police in Sana'a, clearly pointed out that respect of traffic laws is the responsibility of all. He explained that the objective of introducing some solutions to the flow of traffic in Sana'a city was to ease traffic congestion taking place in many streets and to reduce the randomness of the flow of traffic, based on solid a ground of laws to be implemented. The laws, rules and traffic instructions had to be obeyed by all in order to show Sana'a in a reasonable, acceptable guise. The police plans included setting specifications and standards for technical and mechanical conditions for buses and taxis and emphasise the importance of excluding taxis and buses with different plates from those permitted as public transportation working inside Sana'a city. These are some of reasons the Department of Motor Vehicle in Sana'a has adopted these preventive measures and presented some solutions to the traffic problem in Sana'a city.
Brig. Ali Al-Shameri, Director of Public Relations at the Ministry of the Interior, said passenger buses as much as they contribute to public services, are the main factor behind traffic jams and air pollution since many of them, along with many taxis, are no longer considered a safe means of transportation. The validity of their vehicles has expired a long time ago.
The fact that many buses are hired to transport school students aggravates the situation due to the panic many of these drivers encounter at rush hours. They commit all kinds of violations trying to unload their buses and make it on time at the schools to pick up students. The students are encountering high traffic risks generated from these bus drivers who seek to drop the students at homes as fast as possible in order to return to their first jobs. The passengers and students end up at the mercy of these drivers who consider the high speed and endangering passengers and students legitimate for the sake of making their livings.
Major Ali Al-Ashwal, Director of Tahreer Square Traffic, pointed out other factors contributing to the traffic mess in many streets of Sana'a city. He mentioned he near absence of traffic lights, pedestrians signal lights and the lack of awareness of the importance of following traffic rules, regulations and instructions among buses and taxi drivers, private cars drivers and pedestrians combined. Many are not familiar with the meaning of the three different colors of traffic lights and what arrows signs really mean. Some drivers do not know the right way to park their cars. Some park opposite the road direction and some park in the middle, leading to confusion and blowing of cars' horns with no near hope of realizing traffic rules and instructions.
Lt. Ali Al-Fageah, viewed transportation as the distinguished characteristic of this era. Transportation means have become an essential part of life and not a luxury. Far distances are shortened and life has become easy. Sana'a city, the capital of our beloved country has had a big share of development progress, accompanied by an increase in the number of cars for various uses, which has resulted in congestion in its streets. That there is no possibility to widen streets combined with lack of public parking lots and this is exacerbated by the absence of respect of many drivers who park their cars in illegal parking spaces are the reasons behind the chaotic traffic seen on our daily life.
Moaen Ibrahim Al-Maghafy, an employee, pointed out that seatbelts are not used while many serious cars' injuries would be prevented by wearing them.
Many traffic accidents take place in our streets resulting in temporary and permanent disabilities due to reckless driving by young children of influential ministers and high- level government officials. The fact that traffic laws are not activated is another reason for this traffic mess.
Dr. Ahsan Al-Rubahe, views the many accidents and the consequent financial and material losses as a result of not abiding by traffic rules and regulations, reckless driving, high speed and not wearing the seatbelts. Many car accidents, especially those on inter-city highways, result from the unfit conditions of cars due to the absence of regular mechanical checkups imposed by Traffic Authorities and the lack of awareness by drivers themselves of the importance of checking properly and regularly their cars for possible mechanical problems.
Mr. Ahmed Al-Shuja, a policeman, on duty at Al-Qadesyah Intersection, bitterly expressed the major concerns policemen have, which many people may not know about and which have with no hope in sight of being addressed. Deprivation of annual vacations or emergency leave, long working shifts at in direct sun light, working on weekends and legal holidays and sometimes compulsory overtime during the coverage of important activities and conferences are amongst these grievances. All of these are negatively reflected in the abili performance of policemen.
Truck drivers, attempting to gain additional money, occasionally overload their trucks with construction materials. When they sense they could be ticketed, they download some of what they carry on unattended roads contributing to more blocking of already narrowed streets. This normally leads to traffic jams and unnecessary accidents. Many drivers, especially those having backups, are simply arrogant. They commit major traffic violations and do not worry about being ticketed and fined, because either the fines mean nothing to them or they have their sources to avoid paying the fines at the time of renewal of their car's registration papers and driver's licenses, assuming they actually have them.
So basically, we have no traffic laws being respected and obeyed, especially by drivers of red, blue and green license plates' cars before ordinary ones, no traffic lights and pedestrian signal lights regulating the smooth flow of traffic, and no full understanding of traffic rules by ordinary drivers and pedestrians. A lack of parking lots and not enough public parking spaces, narrow streets versus large number of motorized vehicles. A near total absence of signs determining the speed limits of various cars in our streets and highways., and a lack of public awareness of the importance of following and abiding by traffic laws, which reflect the level of a civilized society. These really have direct consequences for the traffic mess we regrettably see and encounter every day, and the many temporary and permanent disabilities for those lucky ones who escaped death from different kinds of vehicle-related accidents.