Azaz: Reducing traffic violations is hampered by fear of military factions

Traffic jam in the city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo - December 11, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)

Traffic jam in the city of Azaz in the northern countryside of Aleppo - December 11, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)


Azaz – Dayan Junpaz

Residents of Azaz, on the border city with Turkey, have been complaining of the mounting traffic jam on public roads that connect the main entrances to the city from the northern Aleppo countryside.

The presence of traffic police patrols does not prevent congestion on the main roads most of the time due to the absence of a regulatory process for traffic movement and the large size of the roundabouts at the entrances to the city, which take up a large area of the surrounding roads.

The most crowded roads in the opposition-held city are main market street, cultural center street and university road.

Mohammad Khair, a shop owner, told Enab Baladi that crowding in the main market has become a phenomenon and a negative aspect that affects the general image of the area.

He attributed the reason to the presence of billboards, remnants of building materials, and stalls spread in front of shops, which played a major role in narrowing the roads and disrupting the movement of passers-by.

Mohammad Khair stated that local authorities had previously taken various measures, but they seemed useless and ineffective, such as the spike bumps that were placed on most of the roads within the city, as their presence directs traffic in one direction, forcing citizens to use narrow and inappropriate side roads.

The shop owner added that the absence of warning signs for these speed bumps made the matter more complicated, exposing pedestrians and drivers to more risks.

Big roundabouts

The main entrances to the city of Azaz are characterized by the presence of large roundabouts, occupying a large area of the surrounding roads, such as the Silk Road roundabout known as the “Jammal Roundabout,” the “Clock Roundabout,” and the “Castle Roundabout.”

These roundabouts are considered vital meeting points for facilities and services, which makes them a major center for residents and visitors alike, and traffic is very active in them.

Mohammad al-Hussein, a car driver, said that the congestion of vehicles and machinery at the main entrances to the city is annoying, resulting from the inaccurate engineering design of these roundabouts, pointing out that the narrow roads surrounding the roundabouts are an engineering error that contributed to obstructing traffic.

Al-Hussein told Enab Baladi that the lack of traffic lights in those places creates a state of disorganization, as drivers descend without proper guidance and face difficulty in moving smoothly.

He stated that security personnel and traffic police are deployed on the roads, and despite their supposed role in regulating traffic, their influence is not apparent due to their low qualification and understanding of traffic laws.

Fear of armed factions

Azaz is characterized by the widespread phenomenon of non-compliance with traffic controls, as some drivers violate the laws without regard for public safety. This is evident in the repeated violations of some drivers who violate the laws by parking their vehicles on the roads on both sides, causing unnecessary congestion.

Enab Baladi tried to contact the head of the Traffic Department in the city of Azaz but did not receive a response until the moment of preparing this report.

A source responsible for one of the traffic patrols in the city, who was not authorized to make a statement, told Enab Baladi that the lack of effectiveness in enforcing traffic violations in the region is due to the reluctance of traffic patrols to enforce the laws, and this is due to their fear of confronting violating drivers who may be personnel of the national army factions.

The source explained that the presence of the military in the traffic scene raises fears among the traffic authority about escalation and difficult treatment, as they are exposed to attacks and threats, which leads to their failure to enforce the laws.

He added that these “exceptional” circumstances appear as an obstacle to establishing an effective traffic system, and reinforce the state of chaos and lack of legal enforcement.

Azaz, as well as the opposition-controlled areas in northwestern Syria, is witnessing road accidents as a result of low compliance with traffic laws, weak traffic regulation, the increase in population, and the lack of control of motorcycles, in addition to the presence of dirt roads and the poor preparation of some paved roads, especially those that have been bombed by regime forces.



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