Friday, December 28, 2007

Radar control in Lebanon

Anyone following the news these days must be getting increasingly hopeless. The politicians on both sides are talking tough but, as mentioned before, push rarely comes to shove in Lebanon. Yesterday was another fine example of this when Samir Geagea threatened to go ahead with simple majority two weeks from now. As if he’s going to make good on that threat.

You can’t blame him, he’s only a Lebanese living in a country where accountability does not exist and where you can get away with pretty much anything. So imagine my surprise when I noticed a couple of radar control posts on the highway towards Byblos, north of Beirut. “Let’s go catch some bad guys”, the police must have thought. A lofty idea, but the implementation has left some to desire as shown in the picture below.

Photo 1: Some angry driver made sure the camera wouldn't flash again?

To be honest, it seems that they have been there for some time, but I have never noticed them until a few days ago. Anyone expecting people to slow down, must not get their hopes up too high, or up at all. More often than not, initiatives like these didn’t go anywhere. Pass by the crossroad in front of BankMed’ head office, e.g., and notice the cameras that supposedly catch people running a red light. The first few weeks after installation, that crossing reminded you of a 70’s disco with the stroboscopic lamps flashing like crazy. Sure enough, though, no tickets were ever issued and the cameras have been decommissioned since.

One can only wonder why there is never a follow-through on traffic tickets. After all, it would be so easy. Every year, all cars older than 3 years need to go to the Mechanique, a place where they inspect the technical safety of your car. This in turn is needed for the obligatory car insurance. So why not link their computer system with the police’s system holding the traffic violations? Simple make people pay any outstanding tickets before they can get through the checkup.

Lebanon could do the same at the borders: you shouldn’t be able to leave the country with outstanding tickets. With more stringent controls like this plus the necessary cameras and speed traps, the budget deficit would be history in no time!

Or would it…

Photo 2: Even the best camera in the world wouldn't catch this license plate:-)