Nov 20, 2012

An Unforeseen Traffic in Beirut

Left Tripoli at 7:10AM , reached my office at 12:00PM...

(Photo by The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
Today was supposed to be another normal day in Beirut, getting to your office shouldn't take more than what you are used to, usually 20 minutes is more than enough to move around the capital in one direction. And for those who commute daily from outside of the capital, just like me, and have to drive several tens of kilometers on the road each morning, are constantly anxious about any mishap that would delay their timetable, even if it were by one minute, because they know the aftermath of it, and the price they will pay having to drive the same distance when going back home. 

My day kicked off by leaving my house at 7:10AM as usual, wasn't surprised by the daily traffic at the casino area, but was rather shocked by the news I read on my phone saying the army is performing rehearsals for the independence day military show, that usually no one watches, but would rather enjoy the holiday with their family and friends. Cars were not moving ever since we left Jounieh. I had spent over 13 months on that road and seen lots of traffic, but never that frightening, never.

Skeptic bus riders started questioning what would've caused that traffic, while others were confidently stating it should be the lebanese ego, wanting to drive his own car rather than use the public transportation. Others referred the cause of that ugly traffic to a big accident somewhere on the highway, and so on. I, just like an idiot, felt it was my duty to shout the real cause, and I did, after which I had to be showered with mockeries telling me I am too young to perceive this kind of stuff especially that two of the passengers were old war veterans, all at the same time while the military helicopters were hovering right above our heads.

All in all, that ride took me around 5 hours, drenched in the sun, feeling tired and exhausted because of the uncomfortable bus seats, and having to inhale the fumes of not only the bus riders' cigarettes, but the fumes of the nearby cars as well, since windows can never be closed. I finally stepped out of the vehicle, and had to walk 40 more minutes to reach my destination. I had already met others who did the same as well, since there were no other option. I heard some of them cursing the government, while others were feeling sad for all the ambulances and firefighters who might be stuck there as well.

While the usual Lebanese citizen questions "who is to blame", the moment I reached my office I tried to check online whether the Lebanese Army had announced anything regarding today's rehearsals. Here's what I could find on El Nashra [Link], an announcement made the night before, right after 8PM. Apparently it was the Internal Security Forces who announced yesterday, late at night, with no more coverage than what you read in the link, and no publicity at all so that the public can stand prepared, that some roads will be closed during the rehearsals.
Meme posted on the Lebanese Memes page this morning.
Lebanese people, especially the youth on their online spaces, had had their share with making fun of the reckless decisions our government (as a whole) surprisingly takes each day. Here's what the Lebanese Memes posted on their wall this morning, a meme by Karine Kalindjian. While others made fun of the day with some funny posts that portrayed well the tragedy.

I strongly blame whoever is responsible for announcing these exercises the ISF were doing, the least they could do was to publish that announcement on all media venues, at least before 24 hours. Having failed to do so had put the country in a state of fury, which is the last thing this country needs at the moment. I personally hope this mishap never happens again. We've had enough.

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