Fri 30 Oct 2020

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Syria’s al-Bab city… reckless motorcycle driving amid absent traffic laws

One of the security forces of the al-Bab city's local council in northern Aleppo countryside while watching the traffic - September 2020 (Enab Baladi)

One of the security forces of the al-Bab city's local council in northern Aleppo countryside while watching the traffic - September 2020 (Enab Baladi)

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Enab Baladi – Aleppo countryside

Motorcycles are one of the most used transport means among the al-Bab city residents in the northern Aleppo countryside. The difficult living conditions in northern Syria and the presence of internally displaced people (IDPs) from other cities created a need for motorbikes as a substitute for cars.

Muhannad Haskir, a resident of the al-Bab city, told Enab Baladi that the phenomenon of boys driving motorcycles is not something new in the city, as it is usual for parents to buy motorbikes for their children as a means of transportation either to go to work or school.

However, he added that this motor vehicle became “disastrous” for the teenage boys of the city within the absence of parental and law control.

Haskir said that before the Syrian revolution in 2011 and on the Fridays of every week, most young motorbike drivers used to go on the “bike-driving rites,” as he described it.

In this rite, boys ride their motorbikes after cleaning and decorating them on the highway outside the city and have speed races while riding the motorcycles on only one wheel.

Nowadays, they show off their motorbikes driving skills inside the city between the cars and passers-by, and on every day of the week, according to Umm Khaled, a resident of the al-Bab city.

She added, they are disturbing people, and their reckless behavior could lead to traffic accidents. “The situation became out of control and a matter of concern,” Umm Khaled said.

According to Umm Khaled, “reckless” motorcycle driving is not limited to teenagers, as some young men who lack awareness and caution are also bothering people and scaring passers-by due to their “irresponsible” driving.

How do teenage boys obtain motorbikes?

A motorcycle dealer in the al-Bab city, named Mohammed Abu al-Ful told Enab Baladi that “it is very “rare” for a 12- or 13-year-old boy to come to buy a motorcycle, and if so, “I will not sell him anyway,” as there is a purchase and sale contract to buy a motorbike in the first place.”

Nevertheless, the boy’s father or brother comes with him to buy him the motorcycle, according to Abu al-Ful.

Samir al-Shami, another resident from the al-Bab city, bought his 14-year old son a motorbike after he dropped out of school and started working to facilitate his going and return to home.

Al-Shami said, “It is hard to keep watching my son all day, and in the city of al-Bab, there are thousands of motorcycles, so if my son drove in front of me, I would not probably notice him.”

Al-Shami continued saying, “I only allow him to drive the motorcycle to work; otherwise, I do not allow him to drive it.”

The responsibility of the local council

The director of the transportation directorate, affiliated to the al-Bab city’s local council, Abdul Qader Khalaf, said to Enab Baladi that the traffic regulation law is under the study.

Khalaf added that the city’s local council is aware of this phenomenon, which is posing a danger not only to people but also to boys’ lives during their “reckless” motorcycle driving.

Khalaf said the traffic law would determine the proper age for driving motorbikes, besides obliging individuals to practice driving and specifying a mechanism to obtain a motorcycle driving license.

According to Khalaf, the transportation directorate has started to issue license plates for cars and motorcycles since September 2019.

Khalaf said the number of motorcycles registered in the directorate had reached more than 12,000 motorbikes.

According to Khalaf, traffic patrols are being conducted in the al-Bab city to seize unlicensed vehicles, alert boys driving their parents’ registered motorbikes, and impound them if not authorized.

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