OP-ED

Two wheels/Two weeks

By Fakhri al-Arashi

Accepting dangerous practices for long periods of time never ends easily in a poor community; Yemen is a prime example of this truth. By history, Yemen is not a poor country, but it has been pushed toward a narrow corner of destabilization, fragility and illness. The stories of citizens’ struggles today look similar to those of the past. Today’s problems are not new, but simply the mature versions of the mistakes of last decade and the decade before and the decade before that, grown with the blessings a self-interested and shortsighted government.

The late decree of the high security committee to outlaw motorcycle movement during the first two weeks of December 2013 may cause more harm than good. The decree has come late, with the option of amendment for political concerns neglecting the side effects of the short-term problems that may occur as a result of a hasty and incomplete solution.

Like many people in this country, I am generally anti-motorcycle. I don’t like motorcycle drivers’ disrespect for driving principles, the pollution their vehicles generate, the increases in robbery and, lately, the misuse of these machines to carry out assassinations of soldiers and civilians. I don’t like that an assassin on a motorcycle can then escape the scene of the crime so easily. Honestly, I want to see Yemen’s major cities free from motorbikes. But what I want, and what the government wants in this case, does not favor a few of those who use motorcycles as their only source of income, and that in a country that already fails to bother much over plans to improve working opportunities for the jobless, or redistribution for the impoverished.

Without a doubt, this decree will be good in the long term. The question that remains, though, is whether the government brought up a solution to repay the needs of those families who rely on motorcycles for income. If this decree lasts for two weeks and then rescinded, assassinations will simply resume after two weeks. And if it is decided that the decree was unnecessary, then there was no need to double the suffering of the people and bring more enemies into the zoo of opponents of Yemen’s fragile government. This only strengthens certain other politicians who might use these new detractors for their own interest.

Yemen’s problem are plenty, and if no serious solution can be found for them, then all we are doing is assaulting the emotions—and livelihood—of people who might still believe that tomorrow could change for the better. So far, hopelessness seems closer than positive change.  Common concerns are there, but whoever takes the initiative must include all of the relevant concerns into their working plans.