Motorbikes: robbery, harassment and tragic accidents
Ashraf Al-Muraqab (author), Ashraf Al-Muraqab (photographer)
Over 24 motorbike users have been killed in the first half of April 2012, according to a newly released report by the Ministry of the Interior.
“There are many motorcycles in big cities because they are able to move easily during the rush-hour traffic,” said Hamdi Al-Mugharem.
“Motorcycle drivers can overcome traffic jams and drive you where you need to go as fast as possible,” he added.
“I prefer motorcycles to taxis, because they are cheaper. Taxi drivers ask for more money and they take more time,” said Ahmad Jadan, a resident in Sana’a.
Even government workers prefer motorcycles to other forms of transportation because they are faster and cheaper, according to Mamoon Al-Hubaishi, an official worker.
“Many employed people use motorcycles to increase their income. They work on motorcycles in the afternoon to get more money,” said Ali Al-Raimi, a worker in a motorcycle shop.
“This motorcycle is the only source of income I have,” said Maher Qaed, a motorcycle driver.
“People use motorcycles to get everywhere faster,” he added.
“Motorcycle drivers go down narrow roads to make shortcuts. In other words, motorcycles are faster, cheaper and easier,” said Ghaleb Al-Emad, a motorcycle driver.
Motorbike drivers and safety
“Almost no motorcycle drivers wear safety helmets and they don’t obey traffic police rules. They carelessly break the laws and no one punishes them,” said Khalil Al-Mahjari, a traffic police officer in the Shumaila area in Sana’a.
Customs Administration has issued license plate numbers for motorcycles. Drivers can’t get the license plate number unless they bring a person of good repute to guarantee that no violations will be committed.
However, the procedures of the Customs Administration don’t stop the traffic offenses of motorcycle drivers against residents, according to Saleem Al-Sadani, a student in the Faculty of Mass Media at Sana’a University.
“The laws of the Customs Administrations are not fully implemented. So there are still many violations and confusion that the motorcycle drivers cause,” added Al-Sadani.
Robberies and harassment
“I’m embarrassed to talk about the sexual harassment I face from motorbike drivers,” said Abeer Al-Harazi, a female nurse in a hospital in Sana’a.
“I hope that the security services can find solutions to protect us [women] and stop the violations we face every day. Some motorcycle drivers use abusive language while some others harass us using their hands,” she added.
“Every day, motorcycle drivers try to abuse me by calling me filthy words or by making some frightening movements. I can’t endure this anymore. It is as if we are living in a jungle,” said Samar Qaed, a resident in Sana’a.
Motorcycle drivers don’t only harass women, even men are abused.
The motorcycle drivers don’t just bother pedestrians, they use the sidewalks when the road is crowded, according to Hanan Masood, a student at Sana’a University.
Masood’s laptop was stolen by a motorbike rider as she was walking down the street. The driver was laughing as if he was sure he wouldn’t be punished, according she said.
“The laptops of two friends of mine were snatched by motorcycle drivers in broad daylight, and also my mobile phone,” said Saleem Al-Sadani, a worker.
“My laptop was taken by a motorcycle driver in Mujahed Street and when I tried to resist, he pointed his gun at me,” said Mohammed Ibraheem, a student at Sana’a University.
Motorbikes cause more traffic accidents
Motorbikes are often the cause of terrible traffic accidents in Yemen, according to Yemen’s Ministry of the Interior.
The ministry said in 2008 that motorbike drivers had caused 80 percent of reported traffic accidents.
According to the ministry, about 30-40 motorbike drivers die each month, and between 100-120 are wounded.
In 2009, Sana’a had the most traffic accidents involving motorbikes with 325 accidents, followed by Taiz with 177 accidents, and Hodeida with 85 accidents, according to the ministry.
Some traffic accidents caused the death of entire families, and in others bodies were left scattered over the road. There are numerous sad stories from traffic accidents, especially motorcycle accidents, which cause long-term negative effects on individuals.
The ministry pointed out that chewing qat while driving is a contributing cause to the high number of accidents.
Motorbike driving banned at night in Taiz
On March 18, 2012 armed men gunned down a US English teacher in Taiz from the back of a motorbike. After this attack, the local security leadership decided to ban the use of motorbikes between 6:00pm and 6:00am.
Armed men believed to be affiliated to Al-Qaeda have been reported using the same method in the gunning down of several security and intelligence officers, particularly in Abyan, Hadramout, Aden and Shabwa.
In early March of this year, armed men on motorbikes said to be connected with Al-Qaeda fired at a vehicle carrying a US security team while they were on a training mission in Aden.