Tags Posts tagged with "barricade"

barricade

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For no clear reason, a major highway was closed during morning rush hour today. Police officers and vehicles blocked entrances as seen above. Other sections were merely closed with barricades and steel cables:

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One entrance was even blocked by a civilian car with the trunk open:

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The result was a massive pileup, adding an extra half hour to the morning commute for thousands of drivers coming from the suburbs to Beirut.

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I finally found one entrance to the highway through an alley that was not blocked so I decided to have a look.   Turned out, the road was totally empty, no hazards, no construction, no road works:

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We drove along the road for about two kilometers until a police man appeared and again directed us off the highway. He seemed alarmed and told me to exit quickly. “Why is the road closed,” I asked. “I don’t know, we just have orders to close it,” he replied.

One thing is clear: there’s been a lot of security on the roads today as politicians scurry around to their respective houses to negotiate cabinet positions, or as many Lebanese say “to cut the cake” (of corruption).

Could it be that the highway was closed to allow politicians to travel quickly to expedite their business dealings without having to get stuck in the traffic that average citizens have to face on a daily basis? In fact, politicians regularly create massive traffic jams with their fleets of convoys or by blocking busy roads around their houses for “security purposes.”

Maybe it’s time someone did some calculations to find out how many hours average Lebanese spend in traffic to make life easier for politicians. With the same politicians failing to provide Lebanese citizens with the most basic services such as water, electricity or public transportation, would their ease of movements survive a true cost-benefit analysis?

Or maybe politicians could pick up the phone sometimes or use Skype? Would any of them sacrifice face time and portfolio negotiations for the greater good?

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To the untrained eye, this may look like a colossal failure in civil engineering. But this strange double sidewalk seems to fulfill a purpose as it runs right in front of a mansion owned by one of Lebanon’s most powerful politicians.

Because Lebanese politicians are so important, they must go to great lengths to secure their homes, blocking off already congested streets across town so that no one can get near them. But in this case, it seems the planners wanted to be a bit more subtle.

Instead of overtly blocking access to the street with a row of painted steel barricades, it seems this politician’s security team have decided to simply make the road smaller by adding the additional sidewalk. Now the street is easier to block and the brash appropriation of public space will seem less obvious or “more beautiful” as the architectural brief may have read.

The result of this added congestion is also permanent and will remain regardless of the mansion owner’s tenure in office. I wonder if his security team even bothered to get a permit for such an odd ‘civil works’ project.