By Asma Al-Mohattwari
A car accident devastated two close families vacationing together in Hodeidah.
Ashwaq and Balqis were the best of friends. Balqis, her husband and her brother traveled to Hodeidah by vehicle, while Ashwaq, her husband and children flew there. Balqis’ husband had to cut the trip short and head back to Sana’a for work. Balqis told her husband to go on without her, she would ride to Sana’a with Ashwaq and her family in a few days. Her husband reluctantly agreed, not knowing it would be the last time he would see his wife. Ashwaq and Balqis traveled back to Sana’a with their children on 28 March.
While in Manakha, they were driving through a narrow, curved mountain road when a truck appeared out of them. The driver attempted to avoid crashing into the vehicle, but ended up at the bottom of a valley between the mountains. Ashwaq, her son and Balqis’ husband and brother died instantly. Ashwaq’s daughter is in critical condition. Balqis lost her husband, her brother, her best friend, and the child she was carrying. She may never walk again.
Traffic accidents in Yemen claim the lives of thousands of Yemenis every year. Some refer to traveling by vehicle as a “war,” because victims of car accidents in Yemen have outnumbered victims of war casualties in the country, leaving behind more widows and orphans.
A report prepared by the Security Media Center reported 8187 traffic accidents in 2012, killing 2462 People Road Maintenance Fund employee, Jamil Al-Homatti, listed fast driving, dangerous slopes and lack of safety measures as the leading cause of accidents.
“All road projects stipulate traffic safety procedures to be mended after road construction, but what happens is that the fund and the budget for the construction is usually finished by the time the road is constructed. The engineers have no choice but to end the work and leave without the safety procedures.”
Increasing weight allotments for trucks is also contributing to traffic accidents, said Mojeeb Shmar, particularly in city entrances and ramps. Drivers lose control and the imbalance causes accidents.
Eng. Abdulla Al-giri said that the widening of the road network and the incredible increase of trucks have put more pressure on roads. Extra truck cargo has proved to be lethal, he said. Al-giri said the maintenance of asphalt roads was urgent and had to be one of the Road Maintenance Fund’s priorities. Drivers, he said, need to be educated on the importance of following rules and on the safety of the road. Media can play a role in that. “We must launch a media awareness campaign to educated drivers about road risks and proper driving. Following instructions will save lives,” Al-giri said.