Nov 04, 2014

It never fails to take us by surprise.

Every time the rainy season starts and there is a downpour, our streets get flooded, manholes get plugged and tunnels are inundated.

Cars, as a result, get stuck, blocking roads and making driving a nightmare, and unfortunate pedestrians get drenched, by rainwater or gleeful drivers speeding by.

One winter-related crisis after another have failed to teach people — involved authorities and regular citizens who still find inclement weather conditions the right time to go out and “admire” nature — lessons.

Surely municipalities in the country must have learnt a lesson or two from past bitter experiences and are, one would think, better prepared now for heavy rainfall.

Or are they?

From the look of things, not exactly.

The last rain proved man impotent in the face of nature.

In all fairness, the downpour was massive. It would have put a strain on the best infrastructure in the world. Ours is not.

Yes, it is quite an investment to prepare roads to withstand heavy rain or, generally, extreme weather conditions. Still, since heavy winters do not seem to be an exception any longer, such investment has to be made.

That said, those rushing to criticise the mayor — a scapegoat is always found — should think twice.

The man has been working hard to make do with the decrepit system and outdated machinery he inherited.

Tackling the road network is an investment of decades, not one he could fix in the short time he has been heading the Greater Amman Municipality.

A city built haphazardly like Amman, with zoning codes coming as an afterthought, if at all, with citizens who have no qualms about littering or, in many cases, violating laws needs long years to be brought back to order.

True, summer should be the time all the faults shown in winter are fixed. But summers in Jordan are the time of expatriates. With hundreds of thousands of extra cars and people roaming the roads of the Kingdom, work to fix streets would become a nuisance citizens would be the first to protest against.

That is no reason for things not to be addressed.

A good master plan has to be drawn and work has to start somewhere.

Patching things up, as it has been happening so far, does not work. Not for long, anyway.

More rain will hopefully bless the country, snow might grace our roads, and we will have to put up with more inconvenience.

One just hopes it will not be a never-ending cycle, but an eye opener and a call to action.

Meanwhile, showing courtesy to fellow drivers, not littering and blocking manholes, generally being good citizens — which means paying our dues, cleaning our side of the road, alerting authorities to burst pipes — could go a long way towards helping municipality workers do their job.