Enab Baladi – Idlib
In the midst of a series of obstacles and frequent road holes, vehicles are passing on the damaged roads between the city of Idlib and its countrysides. This caused damages described by the cars owners as “big,” especially when an ambulance transports injured people, after bombardments, towards the border crossings with Turkey.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, Ahmed El Desouky, Idlib’s Sector Director in Al-Sham Organization for Emergency, says that the organization has benefited on more than one level from the road rehabilitation project which is being carried out by the “Service Management Authority” in Idlib in cooperation with the administration of “Bab Al-Hawa” crossing. The second phase of this project started on Saturday, May 6, after the first phase ended with the reparation and pavement of three roads, last month.
The Objective of the Project’s is Paving Seven Roads
The project includes the rehabilitation and pavement of seven main roads which connect the major population groupings in Idlib. The project administration says that it is the largest project of road maintenance in the “liberated” North. While the administration finished the first phase in late April, after about 20 days of work, the second phase would end in two months’ time with the reparation of the remaining four roads.
According to El Desouky, the “Al-Sham” ambulances used to spend around one hour and a half to travel between Idlib and Bab Al-Hawa through Ma’arrat Misrin. El Desouky, who sees that this long duration has a negative impact on the patient and the injured person, points out that “after the reparation of the roads, this duration has decreased significantly.”
The Idlib Sector Director in the organization confirms that “the reparation of the roads has relieved us a lot from of burdens, including maintenance costs.” He pointed out also that “we could only drive at a low speed, but the patient would always suffer from pain due to road bumps.”
The young man Ramez, an ambulance driver in Idlib, agrees with what Desouky said. He clarified that “among the most affected people by the roads are those who suffered severe injuries and fractures in the vertebrae or pelvis.” He called also for “making the roads better, although today they are much better than they used to be.”
Evaluating the Roads Before Starting the Project
The “Services Authority” takes annual measures to repair the roads at the beginning of each summer. However, the current campaign is “the largest,” according to engineer Abdul Hakim al-Assaad, Director of Public Works Department in the “Authority.” He said to Enab Baladi: “We started the work after evaluating all the roads and selecting the most important ones that serve a larger proportion of the citizens and population groupings.”
In the past years, the “Services Authority” has implemented several road maintenance projects. Al-Assaad clarifies: “We have repaired five main roads last year, with quantities of gravel, adhesives and asphalt, but the current project included the spreading of a whole asphalt layer in the most affected areas.”
The project mainly targeted the turns, in places where there were frequent traffic jams, when convoys and cars passed. The project’s administration enlarged some narrow roads, according to al-Assaad. Deputy Head of the Services Authority, engineer Ibrahim Al-Yamani, pointed out that “the bombardment of the area by the Russians and the regime was the major reason for the project.”
Explaining the process of evaluating the roads’ damages before starting the project, Al-Yamani says: “The northern countryside of Hama has been subjected to repeated strikes, especially the road to Khan Shaykhun and its surroundings. Therefore, we had to repair the road as quickly as possible to facilitate the arrival of ambulances to the area.”
This is also the case in the western countryside of Aleppo, as it is the northern Syrian road that leads to the town of Atme and the camps that are spread in it. “Therefore, it is necessary to serve the citizens and facilitate their movement and the arrival of aid convoys to them.” According to the Deputy Head of the “Authority,” the cost of road maintenance is “significant.” He pointed out also: “We wished that we could afford to pave the smallest road which leads to the farthest town, but this would cost a lot.”
According to citizens from Idlib, who are surveyed by Enab Baladi, the maintenance and paving of roads have an impact on the economic reality of transporting goods as well as agricultural and relief products to the “liberated” areas, in addition to their importance in emergency situations, particularly in transporting patients and injured people to the border hospitals.