We are all responsible for keeping our city clean

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Do some people believe that since the Vision 2030 announcement, they have been granted a license to litter? It appears that way, as I have seen increasing incidents of littering, a practice that shows no signs of abatement.

Annual summer vacations make the Jeddah/Makkah region a major draw among the Kingdom’s premier cities for families in towns and villages who make a beeline for the larger cosmopolitan cities and those that have a coastline are usually the ones in greater demand.

With its geographical location by the Red Sea, and the relaxed and diverse nature of its inhabitants, Jeddah remains the premier magnet for thousands of Saudis who make their journey to this city. A resident quickly notices such mass migration by increased traffic on roads and in public places such as shopping malls.

The unfamiliarity of the city roads leads a lot of visitors to commit some major traffic flaws such as driving on the wrong side of the road, or driving extremely slow or fast on our freeways. Perhaps the lack of a massive road network in their towns makes it difficult for these motorists, a lot of whom have driven to the city with their families. That naturally contributes to traffic jams that are an ongoing inconvenience that is, unfortunately, expected to continue.

Residents as well as visitors increasingly show a lack of respect for the proper behavior on the road. As the city gets crowded, drivers often block pedestrians by leaving their cars on the sidewalk leaving no room for pedestrians and forcing them to walk in the street. Where are the traffic authorities who should be monitoring such blatant violations? The Saher roadside cameras are not yet geared to capture such abuse.

What is disturbing is that there is absolutely no thought given to littering by the offenders. Litter including empty soda cans is flung out of speeding vehicles and onto sidewalks. Paper or plastics are thrown just about everywhere except in the nearest garbage can. Some people persist in habits that make this city dirty. Very few do it because they don’t know better. It’s more like they think that there is someone in blue coveralls around the corner who will soon pick up their mess. Their laziness is why trash is not bagged and put in appropriate containers.

While a father can preach to his children the importance of keeping the neighborhoods and cities clean, he must lead by example. A father who carelessly dumps trash out of his car window while driving and without giving it a further thought is often observed by his offspring, who in turn one day will do the same. An employer or a fellow worker not committed to this civic duty can inadvertently influence others to adopt bad habits.

It would be unfair to suggest that all our trash and littering comes from outside visitors. On the contrary, we contribute a bulk of it, either on our roads or our seashore. We cannot expect the authorities to continue picking up the mess we carelessly leave behind. The authorities in recent times have made a lot of efforts to clean up the city. But the response from residents and tourists alike does not augur well for a cleaner environment.

This social problem will not disappear unless we discipline ourselves in accordance to our faith and be kind to the environment around us by upholding the doctrine of cleanliness in every act we perform.

— The author can be reached at talmaeena@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @talmaeena


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