Al-Badran buses enter Azaz city as minibus drivers protest

A public transportation company begins its operations in Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - May 1, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)

A public transportation company begins its operations in Azaz in northern Aleppo countryside - May 1, 2024 (Enab Baladi/Dayan Junpaz)


Azaz – Dayan Junpaz

The Transportation Department in the city of Azaz, in northern Aleppo countryside, launched an internal transportation project in collaboration with Al-Badran private company, to provide transportation services and facilitate the movement of residents.

The local council reported earlier in April that the project targets all public facilities in the city including universities, markets, hospitals, institutions, medical points, and more.

The project, still in its early stages, faces criticism and demands from the residents to cover the entire city and consider the population expansion, and to install electronic boards at the front of the buses so that people can know the destination, and street billboards to facilitate access for non-residents in Azaz.

The entry of Al-Badran company with internal transport buses canceled the existence of minibuses, which drove their owners to protest against banning their work within Azaz.

Discounts for students and police

The executive director of the company, Ahmed Badran, told Enab Baladi that the transportation lines include routes towards hospitals, markets, universities, institutions, and the courthouse.

Badran added that the buses have two doors for getting on and off, in addition to GPS technology, free internet, and equipped with surveillance cameras to maintain the passengers’ belongings and ensure the bus’s security, and features an easy way to lift the wheelchair into the bus.

He mentioned that the bus fare is five Turkish liras, and it is planned to offer discounts up to 20% for university students, policemen, military personnel, and employees, in an effort to serve these groups.

Badran pointed to the company’s work on equipping the buses with devices for activating prepaid service, through recharging from specific centers to be announced later.

Minibus drivers protest

Five days after activating the internal transportation system, minibus owners organized a protest due to the decision of banning their vehicles from operating in the city.

According to Enab Baladi‘s correspondent in Azaz, the police and security forces immediately intervened to disperse the sit-in and disperse the protesters, and later, the security forces obliged the minibus owners to sign a pledge not to organize any future protests.

Ahmad al-Sheikh, a minibus driver in Azaz, told Enab Baladi, that the protest came after activating the internal transportation system and operating the buses, stating that he and all other drivers were informed about their ban from entering the city, with a fine of 500 Turkish liras and a five-day vehicle detention for anyone violating the decision.

Al-Sheikh also mentioned that 250 minibus owners were financially harmed by the decision.

Ibrahim al-Ibrahim, also a minibus driver, considered that the new buses operating the internal transportation service do not adequately meet the area’s needs, and it’s an increased cost to passengers.

Al-Ibrahim told Enab Baladi, when minibuses were operating within the city, the fare per passenger was ten Turkish liras and due to the ban, the cost increased on the passenger as camp and surrounding village residents are forced to pay extra amounts due to the inability of minibuses to enter the city directly.

Minibus drivers are forced to drop off passengers outside the city, then, the passenger finds himself having to use the internal transport bus and pay an additional five Turkish liras.

A source in the traffic police (who preferred to remain anonymous as he is not authorized to speak to the media) told Enab Baladi that the Transportation Department allocated a special stand (garage) for minibuses to reduce congestion within the city.

The source emphasized that minibuses were a major factor in the congestion, considering the activation of buses as a step aimed at improving the organization and safety of public transport.

Attempts to regulate the sector

The activation of internal transportation in Azaz is part of the steps taken by local entities to regulate the transport sector, as the local council announced on March 3, the beginning of traffic signals activation in the city, to reduce congestion phenomena, organize traffic, and provide safe pathways for pedestrians.

According to drivers and residents who spoke to Enab Baladi, the traffic lights have negatives, such as their proximity to each other, and the long duration of the red signal compared to the short green signal duration, creating congestion and queues of cars, and making drivers think of bypassing the signal to avoid delaying movement.

The red signal stops cars for 1.6 minutes, while the green lights up for 30 seconds.

Azaz, like areas controlled by the opposition in northwestern Syria, experiences road accidents due to low adherence to traffic laws, weak traffic organization, population increase, no control over motorcycles, and the existence of dirt roads and poor conditioning of some paved roads, especially those damaged by regime forces’ shelling.

Azaz city suffers from non-compliance with traffic regulations, with some drivers violating the laws without considering public safety, shown by repeated violations of some drivers stopping their vehicles on roads from both sides, causing unnecessary congestion.

A traffic police officer in Azaz was physically assaulted and beaten by a group affiliated with the Sham Front, which is part of the Third Corps of the Syrian National Army, after he asked them to reduce the military vehicle’s speed at the traffic signals at the Clock roundabout.



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