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mise en scene : If hell had roads,C*.

By Ghaith Madadha Having been recently in Italy, I found that not once did I honk a car horn, and that I only cursed when lost or when caught in traffic and running late for my flight back. However, back to Amman's height of the summer road-hell season, I find that with each year the situation escalates into sheer barbarity; when not dodging overly slow or overly fast but equally reckless drivers, one swerves around potholes and unmarked bumps. Throughout, and without the benefit of a working AC, one seethes and simmers further due to the deafening road noise of the relentless and huge traffic volume on the road, while the very occasional building site dust and tenth-rate diesel fume clouds and sewer water slicked roads, further blight any pleasure and add to the miserable experience of Jordanian roads.Some Jordanian and tourist drivers, behave like sub-human and aggressive apes causing a state of ever impeding mayhem as they block roads, park in the most unsuitable places, overtake in the most dangerous ways and pay no heed to right of way, sensible speeds and general human safety whatsoever. I know that I am not alone in spewing forth the most base, vulgar and vile words upon all concerned with this state of affairs, from other motorists to traffic police; from ineffective road planners to corrupt construction contractors; and from sometimes near-blind traffic officers to worthless mothers and fathers whose children are jutting halfway out of the window. In this regard I am an equal opportunities offender, invoking God's wrath upon their fathers and themselves, deciding the nature of their collective lack of intelligence, to even questioning their exact species. In fact, the state to which I am wound up to doesn't end there, for throughout the undignified, nasty experience of driving in Amman, my mind wanders off to fantasize over what perversely cruel and sadistic torture most of these drivers, who rightly should not be even allowed to drive anything more than a mule, deserve. Perhaps a Rodney King style beating? Though this might seem somewhat extreme, it is a testament to the ethical bankruptcy of a society that only respects power and coercion; when one considers that ambulances are deliberately held up by a motorist who refuses to give way to the ill and dying, yet hastens to make way for any ominous looking security related vehicle, without even any sirens. I witnessed this week such a case with an anti-smuggling SUV getting free passage, whereas 20 minutes earlier I was the only one to move for an ambulance on the heavily congested Medina Street at 6.30 pm.Of course, there are other reasons for Amman's disgusting traffic situation, such as the actual roads, whose damaging surfaces cause one to adopt a dodge and dive approach, in addition to the design and construction of a disharmonized network with few slip roads, but rather mixing and matching high speed roads with low speed ones and having them converge at very low speed right angles. Of the worst offending road infrastructure features, are the accident traps that are scissor-effect fly-over exits, where those cars trying to join the main road and move to the left arrive before and far too close to the exit for those trying to slow down and move to the right to leave the main road.However, I still contend that it is mainly a problem of aggression, the issuing of undeserved licenses and the subordination to power which is most to blame; for no traffic awareness campaign can hope to be successful when no better example is set than closing down major roads during busy hours to rehearse parades. The black SUVs, which should set a better example, recklessly and dangerously barge down the road in convoy, ready to smash into or run over anything in their path, with impunity and heeding no traffic regulation, are far more of a worry to me than the ubiquitously blamed inconsiderate taxi drivers. Driving around this week, I counted numerous dangerous behaviors, including a convoy of three motorists, who to save the three minutes of their miserable lives that it would have taken to drive back to their desired exit, instead reversed in convoy against oncoming traffic on a high speed dual carriageway. This is not to mention the avoidable fender benders and the two flipped cars, one of which it would have taken quite some effort to actually flip on the intersection on which it did. en scene : If hell had roadsC*

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Publication:The Star (Amman, Jordan)
Date:Aug 14, 2006
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