Merchants Occupy Daraa’s Sidewalks Denying Pedestrians’ Rightful Space
On the sidewalks, goods of all types and forms are laid out and presented to the people of the city, exposing them to the hazards of car accidents or being run over, as pedestrians have been pushed to the lanes designated for vehicles and trucks, given the merchants’ lack of awareness and the authorities’ negligence of the matter.
The merchants found in sidewalk vending an opportunity to capture their potential customers’ attention to their goods, said Abdul Karim Wassef, a shop owner in Muzayrib town, pointing out that presenting the merchandise this way entices passers-by.
Nevertheless, the gravity of displaying the products on sidewalks manifests in the pedestrians’ inability to walk on them in general, including school students who are turning to walk in the middle of the street, particularly with drivers parking their cars on the right side of the street, which sends the students deeper into the driving lanes, creating a crisis for drivers and threatening the students’ lives.
A primary school teacher, called Mohammed Ziab, told Enab Baladi that the new school year, which is to start in September, will spur the suffering again, where the solutions failed to materialize. The growing problem threatens young students, especially since they are unaware of the dangers of walking in the middle of a driving lane.
Most parents are concerned about their children of this phenomenon; some of whom have even started to take their children to school and wait for them at the end of the day, fearing that they might be run over.
Um Mohammed, the mother of a student, fears for her son’s safety and being hit by speeding cars, pointing out that using the sidewalks by merchants to put out their goods has gone far beyond the reasonable limit, for the merchandise exhibited on the sidewalks are almost half the size of those presented within the shop.
Complaints falling on deaf ears
The sidewalk space occupied by merchants affects not only the children but also the adults. Saad al Hawarainen, a resident of Tafas town, manifested that “each owner or tenant of a shop treats the sidewalk as his own property, knowing that he should display the goods at the shopfront not on the sidewalks, dedicated to the pedestrians.”
Moreover, Hawarainen stated that some started setting up stalls on sidewalks and “investing” in them, taking advantage of the “evident absence of municipalities”.
Daraa was brought back under Syrian regime control more than a year ago, and despite the terms provided for by the “settlement” deal that the regime signed with the opposition factions that were in control of the area, including bettering the status of services and rehabilitating the area after it suffered massive destruction due to the clashes that have been on since 2011, the residents have not witnessed any improvement or development. On the contrary, there is a continued escalation of tension by the Syrian regime, taking a new military turn, which has made delivering services and solving the citizens’ problems at the bottom of its list of priorities.