"Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity".
(surah Al-Imran,ayat-104)
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User Name: TARIQA
User since: 23/May/2011
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If a housewife can figure it out, why can’t the Municipality?

 by Tariq A. Al-Maeena

Jeddah Municipality has come to be known by the residents of the city as a lot of things.  Unfortunately most of them are not very flattering.  That is not to say that the reputation earned has been unjust.  Residents have had a long list of woes that have now stretched over four decades with no reprieve in sight.

In the early days of Ramadan as motorists had barely begun to adjust to the demands of fasting, the Municipality sprung a surprise that caught most of the city dwellers unawares.  They closed down several main intersections on one of Jeddah’s main thoroughfares, Al-Malek Road, forcing motorists to navigate their way helter-skelter across to the other side.  Since the other side happens to lead west to the Corniche where many people go during Ramadan to break their fast, it was a nightmare in the works.

It seems that some bureaucratic genius in that public disservice institution decided that the solution to Jeddah’s traffic problems lay in closing down intersections.  Instead, he devised a scheme where motorists who had to get to the other side of the blocked main road had to turn right, and then merge rapidly to the extreme left where a single lane U-turn exit was created.  The danger lay in the driver having to risk all and merge quickly across several lanes as speeding cars on the main road whizzed by without letup.  I have heard that there have already been several traffic accidents as a result.

In no country of the civilized world have I seen such a traffic arrangement and I have driven in quite a few.  Is it rocket science to plan and manage traffic flows?  Is competency not an inherent requirement of any public service official?  Or should residents continue to suffer in silence as more and more acts of incompetence are heaped upon them?

A British reader, who is also not amused by the creative value of this public service institution, sent me her observations on another annoying issue that fails to be resolved even though it is out there for all to see.  She writes:

“This week I went to the big strip mall on Tahlia where Magrabi and Lacoste are located. We got there exactly at 10 A.M. and the parking in front of the mall was already completely full, not only full but with vehicles double parked on both sides, leaving a small single lane to drive through.

We thought there must have been a big sale on. We had to park in the back of the mall on a side street. As we walked to the shop, we noticed there were hardly any customers in any shop, literally just us.

“The next day we had to return at the same time and the same thing – the parking was full, cars double and triple parked but no shoppers. I asked the salesman why that was so, and he replied that the parking lot was usually full from 8 A.M. onwards from the people working in the offices above the mall.

“So businesses have rented a shop with four parking spaces each in front of it for their customers, but the employees of the offices upstairs are taking up their parking. There is office parking in the back, but only two spaces per office are allocated. Each office only has two employees presumably?

“Another new office building is going up on Sultan Street, at the lights of the junction with Kayal Street. There are four parking spaces in front of the building. Are they only expecting four visitors at a time? Where will their employees park? Will they just jam up the lights, or will they park in the residential streets behind the building and thus end up blocking all those small streets and inconveniencing everyone who lives there?

“Zara, a popular store on Tahlia Street and one of the busiest shops in Jeddah, has only six spaces allocated in front of it. Are they only expecting six customers at a time? I don’t understand why in this day and age buildings are still being constructed without adequate parking slots. How are they getting the permission to build like that?

“My other observation is that in driving from the north into Jeddah, the traffic flow around Rehaily district is an accident waiting to happen.

There are slow moving trucks coming from the north, and they need to move across all the fast lanes to get to the expressway which is on the far left lane. Then slow moving trucks leaving the expressway again feed into the fast lane of Madinah Road.

“In the other direction a U-turn feeds into the fast lane of Madinah Road. This junction needs a bridge to take the trucks on, off and over Madinah Road to the expressway so that the trucks can enter into the slow lane.  As a housewife, if I can work this out, why can’t the ‘experts’ that plan Jeddah’s roads do it? S.N.”

Perhaps the Municipality would like to answer her and enlighten the rest of us as well who fail to comprehend the competency of our city officials.

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