It seems that Amman is changing so fast sometimes and the once familiar roads are growing foreign to me every day. Suddenly, the ordinary routes I take to get to specific places around town are changed. Detours take me elsewhere, and the old roads are packed with new speed bumps, traffic lights, tunnels, circles, and traffic signs. It seems these changes happen over night so the way the Amman municipality has taken to making its residents aware of these changes has been phenomenonal.
For instance, the other day I was taking a lunch break from work and heading to sweifieh via the airport road. Our offices are located right behind the Modern American School, which is also my old alma mater, so suffice to say I have been both a resident and a frequent user of these specific roads for well over 15 years of my life. A very small side road that leads into the area from the airport road has been a two way street since I could remember. It is in fact a bit small so usually cars will wait to the side momentarily till the road clears. So as I was leaving work, I took the small path and was suddenly stopped by police who chastised me about not seeing a sign that said there was no entry from my direction. It had become a one way street.
There was also a Municipality truck so I’m pretty sure they put the sign up about 20 minutes before I fell in to their venus fly trap. In fact, they put up three no entry signs, two of which were placed right on top of each other (photographic evidence to be provided later).
It was hot and I didn’t want to argue although I did mention that after using this road for at least 15 years, seven of those years saw me using it twice a day, that I was indeed surprised to make the discovery. The police officer ignored me and came back moments after he had written ticket for two other people to give give me a 5JD ticket and tell me I had two years to pay it; as if this was some sort of perk to getting fined. It was in fact their way of making people aware that the road was changed. Instead of handing out perhaps a few pamphlets to the residents in the area, they sat there all day fining everyone that pretty much lived or worked in the area.
They haven’t shown up sense.
It occurred to me that I’ve seen this, and indeed experienced this very thing several times over the year, and I realized this was apparently the Jordanian version of an awareness campaign. Who can forget the temporary traffic law that Parliament rejected a few months ago during a time when traffic safety was suddenly a national concern. There were traffic cops fining the heck out of people nearly every 1km stretch of road in the country; or so it felt. In the few weeks that this temporary law was in effect, I think the government made enough money to pay down the deficit.
Isn’t there a way of raising awareness that doesn’t involved punishments, either financial or physical?
In a town like Amman, roads are sacred. The residents know most of them by heart and they become instinctive. There are roads that are made one way, for example, and are ignored by the people who have just gotten used to old realities, and those roads usually go back to normal after the police give up on enforcement.
Some of these moves don’t even make sense.
On Mecca St. a traffic light has been placed several meters away from the the Mecca-Medina circle. Cars coming out of the tunnel are faced with a red light now. Doesn’t that defeat the initial purpose of having a tunnel in the first place?