The “Desert” Trail of Suffering

By: Fahed Khitan

تم نشره في Sat 21 May / May 2016. 12:00 AM - آخر تعديل في Sat 21 May / May 2016. 09:58 PM
  • Fahed Khitan

The Southern part of our Country is distinguishable by trail. The moment you drive through the Amman-airport highway interval, and make your way further south, the distance crossed through the Kerak, Maan, and Tafileh governorates, all the way to Aqaba, draws a near accurate visualisation of the reality of life, services, and development in these cities.

The “Desert” trail is one of suffering; packed with adrenaline, and the possibility of death every moment along the way. This international freeway, the vein of economic life in Jordan, and the connecting strip tying the Kingdom to its neighbours to the south, north, and east, has been yielding tragedy after tragedy everyday over the past two years; squashing the newest and toughest vehicles into “junk”.

For years, the government spent just about 17 per cent of its public budget on road projects. This, in the eyes of development experts, was considered exorbitant spending on the account of developmental projects. However, the desert trail got nothing of the government’s exorbitance; while new streets and highways were being opened all over, and older ones were being maintained, very little attention was given to the desert trail, save for simple patching that would collapse at first rain.

Year after year, the trail’s conditions deteriorated, to the point that it is now, deservingly, the region’s most dangerous international freeway.

Southerners don’t walk it anymore, and trucks have begun avoiding it. The story of travelling from Amman to Maan has become something of a tale, with all the dangers, threats, and suffering entailed.

We have a government of day labourers, who do not care, for the most of it, about the negative outcomes of the deteriorating levels of the services provided and how that reflects on citizens and their view of the State. There is not a single southern citizen, I claim, that has not at least once, cursed and screamed angrily while crossing the desert trail in their cars. And with every trip to Amman, one returns to their home down south, wondering “why does the desert trail, out many other roads, remain untouched in this downwards condition?” Such questions usually grow with time to base for general hostility towards the State, caused mainly by this shortcoming in public service delivery to the citizenry.

Yesterday, three citizens met their fates on the “Desert Trail”. Just a few days back, similarly, some met the very same fate. I have not an accurate number for the total victim yield of the Trail over recent years, but to my estimation; lives lost weigh heavy, put aside the material losses incurred by drivers; after every Trail trip, one has to pay a visit to the nearest mechanic in order to fix damages and change worn out parts.

Finally, long in due, the government “thankfully” launched the desert trail rehabilitation project; now that it has become more or less like a terminal patient in an intensive care unit, as put by the Minister of Public Works in his memo to the Premiere; at a total cost of JOD105 million, provided in the form of grant and loans from Saudi brethren, supposed to commence the middle of the current year, without a final ETA to its completion.

Until then, those who use the trail would just have to make do with the bitter fact of it, make more sacrifices on the high way of death, with no alternative or parallel freeway for drivers to use until the “miracle” is done.

Whatever southerners think of Dr Nsoor’s government, they ought to remember that their suffering with the desert trail was during his government, when even their own did not care while they sat on the very same chair.