A few months back I wrote a post about Royal and Official motorcades in Jordan, which I felt put the average Jordanian driver at risk. I have to admit that since writing the post, these motorcades have toned down their approach. About a month back, a motorcade swerved in sharply from a side street and on to the fourth circle. For the first time, I noticed that they stuck to the right side of the road, didn’t travel at unnecessary speeds and didn’t use the bullhorn for shouting purposes. Instead, a rear tinted window casually rolled down and a guard waved his slow-down sign politely, using his other hand to bring his fingers together at the tip to form the standard pear shape, which when floated up and down, means shway shway in Jordan – take it easy. This was back in August, about a month after I wrote my post, and I admittedly have not seen many motorcades since.
However, I noticed these three tweets from fellow Jordanian blogger and Tweeter, Ali Dahmash:
#We even taught the British in Jordan how to fear to speak up on the radio, bravo!
#BeatFM spends entire call defending the Royal Guards as if they r God soldiers & he is a British Citizen! The woman had more courage #Jo
#Jordanian woman calls BeatFM complaining about the way Royal Guards drive in Jordan almost causing her a serious accident, I add my voice
I found them pretty interesting. Radio has actually been the most common medium used by average citizens to complain about these motorcades, and I’ve heard such complaints on several occasions since 2005. I’m not sure if things are improving, and maybe my last experience was a fluke more than a policy shift in protocol as I initially perceived it to be.
That aside, my biggest qualm these days are not the motorcades but the French Embassy (I believe), which is just off Zahran Street. The thing about Zahran street, specifically the section of it that is between the fourth and third circles, is that it is a tight corridor with two lanes going in each direction. As soon as a car in either lane decides to stop and turn in to a side street (which should be prohibited) traffic comes to a stop.
On most days, it should take a driver about 3 minutes to cover Zahran, from the fourth to the third, or vice versa. In cases of traffic, it’s usually extended to 8-10 minutes.
Now on days when there is a diplomatic party or event of some sort at the French Embassy, traffic comes to a stop. Again, this is one of those streets where there’s gridlock. And I’d understand if this was a matter of cars slowing down to turn in to the embassy, but what ends up happening is, important guests take their sweet time saying hello and goodbye, while everyone waits for them to get in their cars and move traffic. Even worse, guests will end up parking on Zahran! It’s a main street and there are two lanes. Parking is strictly prohibited all along the corridor, and rightly so. As soon as one person decides to park, they’ve automatically closed down an entire lane of traffic. So it’s not unusual in these events to see cars parked right underneath the no-parking signs. Naturally, the police won’t do a thing to stop it. These are, after all, important people.
This is perhaps what disturbs me about both motorcades and the Zahran case, it’s not just about the traffic or safety, it’s about exclusion. It’s that the average person is commanded to sit and stay still while more important people have red carpets rolled out for them. We either have to slow down and pull over to the side of the road or wait 20 minutes in traffic as the wealthy and influential hop slowly in to their vehicles.
This, I think, is what bugs me most.
The inequalities in our society seeping in to the most basic of things: traffic.