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Citizens adopting illicit ways to pass car checks.

Summary: SIDON: As the New Year approaches, cars in Lebanon are required to undergo check-ups to authenticate their reliability for another year of drive on the flimsy Lebanese roads. In south Lebanon, however, many have adopted illicit methods - such as borrowing car parts from local lenders - in order to pass these check-ups. The check-up is a detailed study of the reliability

SIDON: As the New Year approaches, cars in Lebanon are required to undergo check-ups to authenticate their reliability for another year of drive on the flimsy Lebanese roads.

In south Lebanon, however, many have adopted illicit methods -- such as borrowing car parts from local lenders -- in order to pass these check-ups.

The check-up is a detailed study of the reliability of the car's mechanics and its exterior. Whether new or old, each registered car owner is required to renew the document, widely known as the "mechanic document" in Lebanon.

At the Al-Zahrani center, administered by the Interior Ministry, Ahmad al-Masri, who owns a 1978 model Mercedes, was able to pass the check-up only after he temporarily replaced the car's tires for $20 from a nearby mechanic.

"My car's rear lights were broken, so I borrowed functioning lights from my friend," said Masri.

Some highways and roads in Lebanon are severely neglected and cause material damage to cars which the owners can't afford to fix.

A mechanic, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that there is nothing illegal in his job, adding that "All I do is serve the customers by replacing their old car parts with new and functioning ones, from tires to seat belts."

But another mechanic, Hassan Taleb refused to provide such a service. "If I did this, I would be simply contributing to killing people."

Instead of such illicit techniques, Taleb said that he would allow customers to pay for brand new tires in installments over three months.

Meanwhile, another violator who identified himself as "Anwar," said politicians committed even more violations that go unpunished.

"I replaced the lights of my car with my friend's just to pass the test, and if my friend needed to replace his engine, I would lend him mine," Anwar added.

Ali al-Zein, a staff worker at the Maintenance Department of the Zahrani Check-up Center dismissed claims that his department was contributing to such illegal services. "All we do is fix and permanently replace car parts," said Zein.

So while new amendments to the traffic law were adopted earlier this year by the Internal Security Forces to punish those who exceed the speed limits, in an effort to reduce the number of accidents, other violations remain unseen. -- Mohammed Zaatari

Copyright 2009, The Daily Star. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Daily Star (Beirut, Lebanon)
Geographic Code:7LEBA
Date:Dec 22, 2010
Words:454
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