March 28, 2008

The new traffic law

A Police officer standing at one of Amman streets, Photo by Emad Salmeh

The "experts" say, as mentioned in the attached published article in Jordan Times, the cause of road killing goes to the following factors: 1) The Road. 2) The Vehicle. 3) The Driver. and awareness or change in mentality.
Maybe a good implementation of tough laws will enforce people to obay the orders, a dectatorial solution, isn't it? Enforcing a tougher Traffic law is not mentioned in the above mentioned causes of accidents and the experts listed some causes of the problem, but I belive they missed some.
Driving in Jordan is a reflection of a social-economical status of the citizens. What you see in the number of road killing, accidents, and even the fights and aggressive attitudes of the drivers in Jordan is not only caused by factors mentioned above, or the awareness of being a "good driver".

It's our education, ethics, and behaviors. How we drive is how we talk, how we work, how we treat each other, our moods, our patient, our attitudes, a reflection of the citizen, happiness and satisfaction or sadness, anger and greed. Not only have we had no proper roads to drive, or a depreciated cars caused by the holes in the streets, or an angry driver. We don't have a proper transportation alternative, and we don't even think of having one.

On the other hand, we need to focus on finding alternatives for transportation, if we focus on cars and traffic we will get more cars and traffic, if we focus on the people and places we will get more people and places.

A poster shows the amount of space taken up by cars, a bus, and bicycles used to transport the same number of people.

We will not solve the accidents and traffic problems by accommodating the use of vehicles. We fix some streets, we build parking garages, we dig some tunnels, then we enforce tougher traffic laws or we make some guerilla campaigns for implementing selective seasonal violations or we say lets give some awareness!

Our main target shall be to develop this country to make it more livable. We need to understand and educate ourselves and know what do we want? and how are we going to make it?

Finally, to be the leaders in the region development, we have to have the competency of change.

Related Posts:
Amman City Streets
Mechanisms to reduce traffic accidents
Police Security Department
Toward improving the transportation system and decreasing car emission
Education and Economy in Jordan reform
The new Traffic law
Dealing with Police officers in Jordan

AMMAN - (JT) Experts and citizens said a new traffic law sent by the government to Parliament on Sunday was not enough to curb accidents, noting that a “change in mentality” was a more pressing need.

As deputies went into lengthy discussions on the legality of having a new law as an older temporary one was stuck at the Senate, citizens and experts told The Jordan Times that a crusade should be launched to change the mentality of motorists, pedestrians, educators and families.

Dean of Husn University College Saad Abu Qudais, who described road accidents as an “undeclared war on the innocent”, noted that the amendments to the law focus on drivers as the major factor in traffic accidents.

“There are other factors the proposed draft law does not address such as conditions of roads and vehicles as well as loopholes in road designs.”

The academician, who is an expert in transportation-related environmental problems, said: “It is not an issue of intensifying penalties and proposing harsher regulations.”

The draft law replaces a temporary traffic law introduced by the previous government in November that was rejected by the Lower House because it was seen as too harsh and aimed at collecting money through bigger fines, rather than addressing the problem itself.

The new law reduced fines and long prison terms, but remains stiffer than the previous versions of the traffic law.

As an example, the penalty for running a red light in the new law ranges from JD100 to JD200 in addition to a detention period of one week to a month, compared to a minimum JD250 fine proposed by the previous version that was rejected by the House.

Mohammad Dabbas, president of the Society for the Prevention of Road Accidents, agreed with Abu Qudais on the need for awareness rather than harsh penalties.

“We should first concentrate on how to make the public respect and abide by traffic regulations before we think of suggesting stiffer penalties," Dabbas said yesterday.

Like Abu Qudais, he also believes that all factors must be taken into consideration when tackling the alarming issue.

He said the Kingdom’s roads are overwhelmed by the increase in population and the rise in the number of vehicles.

Contrary to the view of the two experts, 65-year-old Souf resident Yusra Odeibat, who lost her son Mahmoud in a road accident last year, called for harsher penalties for violators.

Odeibat, who blames the death of her 24-year-old son on a “reckless driver”, said such people should be punished severely and traffic police “should be on every street to stop these people from killing others”.

But some drivers are not yet ready for a change of mentality.

“I cannot drive slowly,” said Salem Nassar, a minibus driver on the Amman-Zarqa route.

“If I do, other buses will make more money than I do, and this will get me into trouble with the bus owner,” he told The Jordan Times on Sunday.

He added that he has no choice but to pick up as many extra passengers as possible in his daily “race” against drivers of public transport vehicles.

Nassar claimed that corruption is involved in the law enforcement issue.

“Even if authorities intensify penalties, it will not do any good. These people [bus owners] have influential people supporting them and they rarely pay fines,” he charged.

But if this way of thinking prevails, said Dabbas, one in every three families will lose a member as a result of a road accident by 2020.

Over 111,000 traffic accidents occurred in 2007 claiming the lives of 979 people. The figure exceeds that of 2006 by 80, Abu Qudais said, citing statistics compiled by the Traffic Institute.

“This means that every 9.44 hours a citizen dies as a result of an accident,” the expert said, pointing out that during the past 10 years more than 7,000 people died and 175,000 injured because of road accidents.

According to a statistical analysis worked out by Abu Qudais, 37 per cent of traffic accident victims are pedestrians, 27 per cent drivers and 19 per cent front seaters. Passengers sitting in back seats constitute 8 per cent of total injuries and deaths.

The analysis also indicated that human error is blamed for 90 per cent of accidents with 10 per cent caused by other factors such as road and vehicle conditions and bad weather.
Violation Current fine/penalty Suggested fine/penalty

Driving under the JD500 and 3-6 months JD250 and one-month
influence of jail term imprisonment
drugs or alcohol
Improper use of lane JD100 and one- to JD50
four-week jail term
Smoking offence JD15 JD10
Failure to use JD150 and imprisonment JD50-JD100
tachometer between one week and a month
Failure to use taxi JD50 JD30
fare meter
Not using seatbelt JD25 JD15

March 21, 2008

Uncivil servants

This is a sample of whom did we vote for to represent us at the Parliament!
The car in the picture is for a representative at the parliament, not sure whom, parking over the pedestrian and half of the car is on a major busy Zahran street between the 6th and 7th circle.
The car with parliament plate were parking infront of the BBQ restaurant, Mawal. While the Mr. Representative was eating his BBQ meal I had to risk my life walking on the street!

Streets construction in Jordan with same old mistakes

Photo by Emad Salameh, March 20th, 2008

Rainbow "abu Baker Al-sedeak" street facing new Make over after announcing it's completion by GAM. Same old Jordanian thing, building then digging, then building again. They forgot something, and it looks that It was the Pedestrian walkway. I thought the whole street was made for the pedestrians to walk. Obviously, they discovered now that "the pedestrians" can't walk or even pass the street. The students at Arwa Bint Al-Harith school and Bishops School faced problems walking on the pumped rough stones. So the stone were replaced by concrete, but only at cross paths. Not sure though whats the real cause of removing the stones after being built, but thats what it looks like and the construction cost was 2,000,000 JD!

Related posts:

Rainbow Street Completed

Rainbow street transformed

Rainbow street transformed to a shopping hub

March 12, 2008

Streets names and numbers

GAM are installing Plates and changing names of the streets. Instead of focusing on the street and make it more livable, they are naming it and giving it some new signs. Moreover, changing street names is threatening our identity, the city sustainability, it's heritage and brand. We still call the first circle: the first circle, the second circle : the second circle, etc.

We need a street without pumps or holes, and a safe pedestrian to walk in. A lane for bicycles, a good public transportation for mass commute, and to stop relying on cars.

For a city to be more livable we need to focus on the street as a public space, and a pedestrian.

The Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) on Sunday said it has completed the first phase of the project; placing plates and giving names to streets of Amman.The second phase of the project will start in few days according to Director of the GAM’s Naming and Numbering Department Marwan Olayan. Meanwhile, the municipality floated a tender to manufacture 100 new plates of numbers similar to those fixed on the commercial buildings in the capital.

Type rest of the post here

Dealing with Police officers in Jordan

Photo by Emad Salameh

I thought I am an attrcative person, but, today it was proved, but I shouldn't be happy about it. It came from a police officer who stopped me, just me, nobody else. The only person who was walking in the street going from Work to Home. I enjoy walking but each time I walk from work to home I suffer from many problems due to the undeveloped pedestrian or the noise that comes from the cars, etc.. Today it was different.
I first saw the Police car standing at the side of a corner, who was actually causing a traffic problem, but thats another thing, however, I saw the car flashing then as I approached the car he stopped me and asked for my ID.
I was surprised and I asked why?
The officer answered: we would like to know you?
I answered: Stopping me in the middle of my walk infront of all these cars just to know me?
The officer: where are you from?
I replied: Jordan, where else, I am on my way to home, enjoying my walk and the city.
He answered: Don't you have a car?
I answered: yes, I do, but I love walking, whats the problem did you guys start catching who walks?
I started complaiming and then another officer approached me and I told him: Whats wrong, is there anything?
The other officer replied, the same sentence: no we just wanna know you?
Then he gave me my ID back and said you can go now.

Thats strange, I lived in the US for 4 years and during my stay in NYC I never been asked to present my ID or stopped by any police officer. Even it's NYC, the city of 9/11 and my look and accent is Arabic, but, when I come here to my own country, they stop me and ask for my ID?

A week ago I was followed by a police car and they stopped me and asked for my ID and they took my camera. They said someone saw me taking some photos and they followed me. The officer said:" why are you taking pictuers? are you planning for some explosions in Amman?"

I said what are you talking about.

He took my ID and wanted to arrest me, but I told him to look at my camera and see if I took anything suspicious. The other officer, who was with a higher rank, started to ask me some questions and I showed him the pictuers.

After some talk, they let me go....

Again, in NYC, the city of 9/11 I took thousands of pictuers of buildings, people, interiors, and I never been asked to present my ID, never.
In a previous post I mentioned how I love seeing a police officer. They give order, and make you feel secure, they represent the government on the ground, thats only if they are effective and not just standing there.

I know I am pissed. Do I have the right to have this feeling? or Shall I stop walking? or taking pictuers? Or just Shut up!

Related Posts:

Mechanisms to reduce traffic accidents

Police Security Department

Toward improving the transportation system and decreasing car emission

Education and Economy in Jordan reform

The new Traffic law

March 9, 2008

Al-Weibdeh carnaval

Al-weibdeh and it's residents celebrated the streets of alweibdeh this weekend, on saturday, by a carnaval where pupets, horses, musicians and people walked the streets from Paris plaza to the Terasanta school.

In a previous post last Sept., Amman Parade, we promoted for an initiative to re-imagine our streets by celebrating the city, it's people, arts and cultures, they did it in AL-weibdeh, can't we do it for Amman?

Amman is a cultural city that needs to celebrate it’s arts and people in it’s
own streets that shapes it’s environment. Why don’t we have an annual parade to
celebrate Amman City it’s environment and culture by marching in the streets
form different organizations, associations, businesses, schools, clubs with
diverse ethnicities, believes, and origins. It is challenging but lets see the
feedback and if we can get the blessing from the municipality to sponsor one or
support it. We marched for politics opposing, and condemning, or supporting, and
blessing. Shouldn’t we march for our city it’s culture, and environment? We
march for peace, love, education, honor, and, most important, we march for the
environment. Let’s show how we, the citizens, can work together side by side
with the leadership of our king and the government in building this country. We
need to start thinking about a campaign building a movement to celebrate our
city and it’s people and culture.

Related posts:

March 8, 2008

Mafraq schools without water supply

Another incident about schools without proper healthy environment for education.

MAFRAQ (Petra) - A total of 35 schools in the central district of Mafraq have had no water supply for a month after their water gauges exploded during a frost spell, according to Ahmad Mathani, director of the Mafraq Education Department, who called for a solution. Bassem Omoush, director of the Mafraq Water Department, said the department will start installing new water meters early next week. The schools have been supplied with water through tankers in the meantime.

Related Posts
Watch out the Ceiling
Another classroom Collapse
New Schools to be built in Jordan next year
Education and Economy in Jordan reform

March 5, 2008

Radio Al Balad banned from broadcasting

They said Al-Balad radio station Insulted the lower house! I am not sure what's the case, but, we have a problem in this country called an Ego ... So, for someone ego they banned a radio station. WOW ...good job!

If you just listen to some of the "new" radio stations in this country you will hear alot of words insulting us, our children, women, men, religion, morals, and ethics. It's so strange that some programs and songs have dirty words that they keep broadcasting on the air, and nobody speaks a word, labeled by "cool stuff"?

Freedom of It's the lack of morals and ethics that feeds our kids from the radio, TV, and the internet that have negative reflects on the development of our youth and society.
No wonder generations after generations of our yought are becoming more ignorant regecting our causes, values, and identities!

How can we become more effective and what is our priority? We keep watching and listening to a media that lack any sense of our identity and traditions.

So...lower house, focus on what concerns the city and not what concerns yourselves, and don't get offended by my speach, be "cool"?

AMMAN (JT)- The Lower House has filed a lawsuit against Radio Al Balad, formerly Ammannet, and banned it from broadcasting its sessions for allegedly insulting the chamber of deputies, House Secretary General Fayez Shawabkeh said.

“We prevented the radio’s correspondent from broadcasting last week after we discovered that the station insulted the Legislative Authority,” Shawabkeh told The Jordan Times.

According to the secretary general, several deputies complained to the Lower House General Secretariat when they learned that Radio Al Balad insulted the Lower House.

“We sent a letter to the Audiovisual Commission to see if any insult was aired by the radio station and received a reply from the commission confirming this fact,” Shawabkeh said.

Despite several attempts by The Jordan Times to contact them, officials at the commission did not return the calls.

Sawsan Zaidah, radio manager, said the station’s correspondent was prevented from broadcasting from its studio at the Lower House last Wednesday and was told that he will not be allowed to relay the session due to an insult to the House published on the station’s website.

Zaidah said a comment deemed “insulting” by the Lower House was discovered after checking the website’s archives.

The comment on an article published on January 29 was posted by a reader, she explained.

According to Zaidah, as of early January, the station started implementing a monitoring system on the website that filters comments.

“In the system, we have created a blacklist of words. If one of the words in the blacklist is in the comments, the system will not publish it. But the word that the Lower House sees as insulting was not on this blacklist,” she told The Jordan Times.

Zaidah added that there is a disclaimer on the station’s website clarifying that comments solely reflect readers’ opinions.

According to Yehya Shqeir, a media law expert, article 189 of the Penal Code imposes penalties on publications and media outlets that publish words or descriptions deemed insulting to the Parliament or its members.

If it is proven that the insult was published deliberately, the penalty ranges from one to six months in prison or a fine ranging between JD10-50, according to Shqeir.

Related Posts
GAM to launch private radio station
GAM FM radio station HAWA

March 2, 2008

Applying for affordable housing

AMMAN (JT) - Citizens can apply for housing under an initiative launched by His Majesty King Abdullah last week to provide low-and limited-income citizens with affordable housing at the Jordan Post Company (JPC). Under an agreement signed between the JPC and the Housing and Urban Development Corporation yesterday, citizens can go to JPC offices across the country to apply for the initiative, under which some 120,000 housing units will be built over the next five years. JPC staff can fill out the forms for those unable to complete the application, for a JD1 fee including the cost of postage and the envelope.

Renewable energy devices to be tax deducted ... not enough

It's still cooking, but it's not clear what lies under " energy conservation and renewable energy", maybe in the future we will get similar deductions on the environmental green products, recycled products, etc?

This is a good step because when you reduce taxes on the imported parts you will improve the competitive advantage of the local prodcuts. Since we don't manufacture renewable energy parts, but, we use them in production. We will get a competitive products manufactured locally.

But, this business strategy lies for all manufacturing products. The government need to support all the manufacturing industry by exempting all the manufacturing imports from taxes to protect our local businesses and products. Many world wide companies impose these protections by adding tarrifs on foreign products to support the local businesses. Hence, we produce more!

USA, and Eu does that even the WTO don't allow this to happen, but it's debatable.

AMMAN (JT) - Despite frequent calls to exempt renewable energy devices from sales tax and customs, citizens are still forced to pay over 40 per cent extra for the devices, according to sources familiar with the issue.

But a concerned official said the decision is imminent.

Earlier in January, Prime Minister Nader Dahabi said the government was looking into a decision to exempt energy conservation and renewable energy devices from customs duties and sales tax.

In December, His Majesty King Abdullah stressed the importance of increasing reliance on alternative and renewable energy sources, noting that privileges and exemptions should be given to institutions and entities that apply energy renewable and conservation systems.

The call comes in line with the Kingdom’s energy strategy, which seeks to increase dependence on local energy sources, from the current 4 per cent to 25 per cent by 2015, and up to 39 per cent by 2020.

Yet with rising energy prices driving up the cost of living, the decision has yet to be made, leaving citizens looking to move towards energy-saving devices with little options.

The wider use of solar energy and other energy saving devices have the potential to save the Kingdom’s energy consumption by 25-50 per cent, according to National Energy Research Centre (NERC) President Malek Kabariti.

But the NERC president said certain parties are resistant to the exemption move, unwilling to forego the revenue generated by those taxes and tariffs.

“A certain red tape mentality is holding back the decision. Concerned authorities need to realise that the decision will save the government more money than what it gains from customs,” he stressed.

“At the end of the day, we will pay less for energy, which benefits everyone,” he noted.

Ziad Jibril, head of the ministry’s Renewable Energy Directorate, stressed that the exemption procedure was on its way.

According to Jibril, the subcommittee examining the proposal, which comprises representatives from the ministries of energy and natural resources, finance, environment and other stakeholders, is close to finalising the decision, which will now exempt renewable energy systems and plants from sales tax.

Once finalised, the move will be presented to the Royal committee tasked with modernising the sector and then to the Cabinet for endorsement. The exemption is expected to include the manufacturing parts which the solar industry and the renewable energy industry needs.

Under the awaited measure, standards on market and imports will be changed to ensure that only high quality products proved to be energy-saving benefit from the decision. Along with the energy draft law, the move would also encourage manufacturers and retailers to use locally produced items.

The draft law, which includes regulations governing the renewable energy sector standards, is expected to be presented to the Cabinet soon.

Despite the push for locally produced items, the latest advances in solar energy, particularly the “evacuated tube” technology, however, cannot be manufactured locally, according to Ayman Maaitah, solar energy specialist and CEO of Millennium Energy Industries.

“This technology needs mass production which Jordanian market cannot absorb. Therefore the new technologies must be imported,” he said, noting that unless the imports are lowered, the technology would not be accessible to a large portion of the population.

The technology is currently subject to 16 per cent sales tax and 23 per cent customs, which, according to Maaitah, passes a 40 per cent price increase on to consumers.

The savings from an exemption decision would be dramatic for solar water heaters, which industry experts say can provide users with free heating two years after purchase.

A solar generated water heater currently lists around JD500. If the device was exempted from tariffs and sales tax, however, it will cost citizens around JD350, Maatiah noted.

Using solar energy to heat a home currently costs JD10-15 per square metre. If exempted from taxes and tariffs, the cost drop by 20 per cent, he added.

If the exemption decision is not taken, it would be an equally negative effect on the sector, according to Maaitah

In an effort to save money and take part in the Kingdom’s move to energy conservation, consumers would be forced to purchase cheaper and lower quality energy saving devices, he said.

“With no specifications or quality regulations, substandard products will flood the market and people will turn their backs on solar energy. This is the greatest threat to the industry,” he pointed out.

Streets going Green in Amman

Street lights will be powered on Solar energy, and it's estimated to save millions of JD. A step in using alternative sources of energy and follow the lead of the developed countries in energy and environmental design, towerds highly performance and sustainable cities.

AMMAN (JT) - The Ministry of Public Works and Housing plans to start using solar energy soon to power streetlights in a step towards utilising alternative energy sources.

The ministry has prepared a database of local companies with experience in solar energy, in addition to several international companies, Sami Halasa, the ministry’s assistant secretary general for roads, said on Saturday.

“The ministry will benefit from the experiences of several European countries that make use of solar energy in street lighting. The new plan is expected to cut down state expenditures by millions,” Halasa told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The ministry will start using sunlight in a pilot project that will be implemented on the Amman Ring Road and Hashemiyeh-Balama Street, which are currently under construction.

“When we floated tenders for constructing these roads, we stipulated that the streetlights must operate via solar energy instead of electricity. Currently, each lamp pole with double bulbs costs the country JD45 annually,” Halasa said.

Lighting the streets using solar energy will not cost the country anything, the official said, adding that the ministry will apply the initiative all streets which will be established across the country.

Lighting the country’s streets costs about JD8 million annually; if the pilot project is implemented throughout the Kingdom, it will save millions which can be directed into development projects, he noted.

Underlining the project’s efficiency, Halasa said street lamps working on solar energy will be fitted with cells, which will store daylight and use it during the night.

He noted that the project is also applicable in winter, as three hours of sunlight are enough for lighting the streets, while batteries installed in the lamp poles will operate during cloudy days.

The ministry plans to use solar energy for lighting government agencies in the future, but this will require more study, said Halasa.