Monday, November 21, 2005

Pandora's (Yellow) Box

One morning, a few months ago, I woke up dreary & grumpy to begin my trek to work. Getting to work in the morning is an unavoidable ordeal of modern life, but then again, so is traffic.

Grab my breakfast & jump in the car, we we're off to work. At the first traffic light, there was a bizarre aura of disoriented drivers looking around like they are in a foreign land. What on earth was with the crisscross on the road anyway, wasn't there the day before.

Once I was at work, a couple colleagues were already discussing this, turned out it was something of a national phenomenon that very few people knew what to do about. It took about 45 seconds of googling (including a coffee spill) to unlock the secret of the box:

Box junctions. These have criss-cross yellow lines painted on the road. You MUST NOT enter the box until your exit road or lane is clear. However, you may enter the box and wait when you want to turn right, and are only stopped from doing so by oncoming traffic, or by other vehicles waiting to turn right. At signaled roundabouts you MUST NOT enter the box unless you can cross over it completely without stopping. Law TSRGD regs 10(1) & 29(2)

Great, this is going to be a very needed change to the chaos, or so I thought.

It would be a couple of days yet before I could try out the boxes. Thursday night & I was stopped in a traffic jam in Muharraq, traffic was barely moving. Then my turn came at the junction box, but my exit was not clear so I didn't enter it.

A few seconds later, the gap between the car infront of me & my own car widened to about a half car length, beginning the truncation of the traffic jam. Now traffic from other directions would have a clear path across our own line, what a marvel to behold !

The gap had almost widened to a whole car length before a car from the lane to my left ploughed into the opening. With this one relentlessly opportunistic strike, I realized that the box junction with all it's traffic smoothing potential was doomed to failure. @.@;

I held my ground as yet another car from the left stole precious yellow box space, and then a the car behind him too, went for the kill. I was determined to obey as one car after the other literally bypassed me into open traffic. I was savagely mauled by a violent cacophony of horns as well as inaudible (and presumably very colourful) swears, that I thought would never stop.

I suddenly realized, I had become the people's enemy as if my foot on the brakes had betrayed them all.

The light finally turned red, traffic was still jammed, cars going in other directions couldn't make it past & so instead just rolled into the middle of the yellow box trying to wedge open a way past while the people around me started at me with bloodlust.

I won't be doing that again anytime soon.

So now we are a couple months down the line after a "public awareness campaign", people should know how to use these boxes by now.

What could have been an excellent addition to roadsafety, has instead become just another dead dog on the road. Had authorities properly planned the introduction of yellow boxes, I'm left in no doubt that there would be many many more than 20 people on the whole island with the courage to actually comply with the law.

I think of how it would have been if 2 months ahead of time we saw banners & advertisements in the press, on the radio, on tv and on the roads themselves, giving us tantalizing hints of how to comply with onestep towards the long overdue modernization of our roads. Even if budget was a concern, the launch of Junction boxes could coincide with traffic safety week, a time where the traffic department traditionally wages war against speeders.

I'm sure that people would be talking to each other about how to comply & what to do when different situations arise. The new tool could have been talked about in articles in the press with important guides being carefully illustrated & explained, presentations could have been held for the employees of ministries and large companies, quick guides could have been printed on utility bills,

Could have, would have, should have . . . But wasn't.

Now we are forced to choose between (uselessly) following the law only to have others overturn any good that may come from it or breaking the law without consequence. Oh wait, people carry children on their laps, speed, run reds, overload cars, drive without seatbelts, double park, liter, drive without lights on, weave through traffic & I'm complaining about a bunch of lines on the ground?

We have alot more problems on the road than not being told how to decipher cryptic markings on the ground & until those get addressed, I'm not going to give a damn about any yellow boxes.


Anonymous Mahmood Al-Yousif said...

can you hear the machine go "ka-ching?"

THAT should have been the advertising campaign for the yellow boxes, speeding, driving on the hard shoulder and every other traffic violation. But let's stick to the topic which is the yellow hashed box... good idea, but not followed up. What they should do is have a couple of traffic cops THERE at the edge of the box who when the box is filled, one would go to the front to stop the bastards from exiting, then the other one would go around and collect BD20 from each fuckwad who is in the box.

Let's see how long people come to realise that it is for their best interest not to enter the bloody box until their exit is clear.

In Dubai, the fine is IMMEDIATELY DH1,000 with no questions asked.

THAT is what we want here, someone to implement laws.

Excellent ranting blog by the way! ;)

6:17 PM, November 21, 2005  
Anonymous jmjm said...

well written, haloweenharry, so true... Damn assholes don't know shit, even if you see a fucking yellow box on the street, wouldn't you ask about it? surely it was put there for a fucking purpose... what fucking mentalities we have here :(

Mahmood.. dubai will always stay ahead of us unfortunately, they have something called "Strategic Planning" here they have 7maar planning. Although Dubai is always acting towards Bahrain like hate instead of cooperation, whatever we do, they do better just to ruin our chances.. well Dubai can kiss my ass and burn in hell for all I care, fucking bedouins camel fuckers, and what's worse, abu dhabi is trying to fuck dubai up, it's like a tribal war out here, I say let their oil run out and let them shag camels then the educated people and truly contributing members of society won't find a hard time finding good jobs abroad where they value a human being instead of fucking him up!!!

8:50 AM, November 28, 2005  

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