One of the key characteristics of a progressive society is its capacity to deal with new developments. As life moves forward people must adapt, accept and live with new concepts that appear, from technology, lifestyle changes, new ways of thinking, and changing services.
In Jordan one of the major hindrances to the development process is a lack of a decent, well-organized and modern transportation system. Even what we call public buses are in most of the cases privately operated services that function as a public service with no systematic plan, timetable, set routes. Most don’t even follow the laws of the road or accepted rules of driving. Ignoring this infrastructure failure will eventually lead to more catastrophes like the recent accident with university students on the Mafraq –Irbid Highway.
The issue of transportation in Jordan is not new, but it is increasingly illogical to ignore. Jordanians are totally dependent on their cars for almost every aspect of our lives, and as a result there is rarely a car with more than two passengers on the road. We are stuck without a decent alternative and traffic congestion is worsening every day.
Another result is increasing issues with the availability and usability of taxis. Most have experience with denial of service, where the drives asks your destination and gauges the value of the trip before accepting to take the fare, and that is if you can even find a taxi, especially at certain times and when it is raining. On top of this our cab drivers often do not know how to get to the destination, and the quality and condition of many taxis leaves much to be desired. These issues also often leads to surge pricing, off-meter fares and drivers asking exorbitant rates, especially of foreigners. We also see many cases of radical driver attitudes, as well as verbal and sexual harassment.
Our transport problems cannot be solved without control over the system, which will also have positive impacts from a security perspective. We need a new service that addresses these issues..
Recently, new and efficient transportation services like UBER and CAREEM have launched. It was expected that the new services would trigger anger amongst existing taxi drivers, but instead it seems the government who has for so long failed to provide the needed services is now working against this new operator instead of seizing the opportunity to improve the whole industry and the quality of transportation in Jordan.
It is a real shame to see our country fighting progress and development. Prison is not the answer to freedom of speech in the same way that it is not the answer to services like this, which are booming in other countries, including in our region and changing the nature of transportation. The solution is not in putting people in jail or seizing cars, it is by compromising and facilitating progress with new laws and regulations.
If we can learn to accept and embrace new services like this we would not only see improvement and development in transportation but across industries and our society. It is about time the government considers adopting and embracing new technologies and new solutions to problems that will make a huge difference and improvement to the lives of Jordanians. We should always remember that life goes forward.
Dr. Amer Al Sabaileh