Posted by Alex on Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
During my recent trip to Syria this summer, I was reminded about the new strict driving laws passed. These include excessive speeding, wearing seat belts and not talking on a cell phone. These are noble and fine rules to pass with the goal of protecting and saving lives.
While driving without a safety belt is fraught with risk, sitting at the back of an open Suzuki totally unprotected seems even more risky. Yet, as far as I could tell, there was no law against that.
As the pictures below show, one is regularly struck by the sight of vehicles driven by a seat belted driver carrying scores of children and women at the back of open vehicles with zero protection. Indeed, one would argue that the police ought to view such incidents with much more alarm than a taxi driver without a seat belt during Damascus rush hour.
Incidentally, the pictures were taken while I was traveling on the ever so dangerous Kassab to Aleppo route. One strong break by one of these drivers could have seen these passengers at the back land on either the curvy roads or even the connecting highway.
Given the goal of safety and saving lives, shouldn’t the new traffic laws extend to the risky practice of sitting at the back of such vehicles too?
The municipality of the city of Aleppo faces a daunting task when it comes to garbage collection from the ever expanding city. The pictures below were taken from a rather upscale neighborhood. As residents of the city can confirm, this problem is rather widespread.
For a country whose population may hit 45 million in 2023 and 90 million by 2055 according to its own Prime Minister, the issue of garbage disposal from the open streets must be an urgent item on the agenda of local municipalities if not the Government itself.
At the moment, residents simply place their garbage outside their buildings around midnight. By the time the municipality workers show up around 6:00 am, every cat and stray dog has had a chance to peek inside these bags spilling most of its contents on the open streets.
Some of the street corners have these metal containers shown in the picture. Residents are supposed to place their bags in them. Not everyone does and those that do fail to tie the bags well enough to avoid spillage. What you end with is a pile of garbage inside and outside the containers as the pictures show.
Another feature of these containers is the unseemly picture of men and children sorting out the garbage looking for items they could sell. This is an urgent issue that requires an immediate and comprehensive long term solution.
Syria’s big cities are facing an onslaught from the surrounding countryside. Their populations are growing even faster than the national rate as a result. Unless something is done, these amazingly historical cities face further decay if not ruin.
Written by Ehsani for Syria Comment, posted by Alex