Lebanon & the traffic
By Mazen H.ABBOUD
FIT'N STYLE Magazine November 2010
The Lebanon has attracted during the last decade a lot of tourists; the rate of visitor arrivals to the cedar land has doubled during the last ten years reaching an unprecedented level of one million & a half visitor last year.
However, tourism became also a burden on the normal Lebanese who is loosing some of his time (spending hours) in the traffic to reach work or home (four hours per day per commuter to Beirut).
It is estimated that an average of two hundred thousand employees & half million cars travel in & out of Beirut (on daily basis in summer time); it is worth mentioning that it takes a Lebanese two & a half hour to cross the distance between Beirut & Junieh, which is less than 50 km from the capital only. So, from an economic point of view, tourism is affecting our economy badly also, provided one considers the production hours lost at roads, the cost of fuel consumed by cars stuck in the traffic, and the degrading air quality due to the emission of Co2 from cars in the traffic. So, by simple calculations I might say that the incurrent direct cost of tourism on the national economy is far more than two million USD per day (suppose an average one hour lost in traffic is worth on average 2.5 USD; the number of total hours lost per day is equal to: 200.000 employees *4 hours= 800.000 hours; then the total cost incurred per day is: 800.000 hours *5 USD/ Hour = 2.000.000 USD per day). I believe that the tourism industry in Lebanon cannot grow any longer in the light of the current state of roads; Thus new solutions should be adopted as quickly as possible to make the tourism industry growing, more profitable & less costly to the national economy.
Water taxi project, which was launched this year in Beirut, could be a solution in the medium to long term; it is supposed that the above mentioned project would save the Lebanese economy a lot of losses (lost time & fuel) & generate 15.000 jobs. However, there is still a lot to do to have the project implemented. First of all, a new legal frame work should be set (promulgate a new law for the marine transportation sector). Second, the government should set a policy to develop a public transport system & work on limiting the number of cars in circulation in Grand Beirut area, possibly by the proper implementation of the car safety regulations.
Finally, Water taxi might be a part of a solution to the country transportation sector, provided it respects the international environmental marine code (not discharging fuel wastes into marinas & the sea, for example). Moreover, it would be beneficial if similar marine transportation projects (for cargos) would be put on trail also with a main purpose, which is to limit the circulation of lorries & trucks with cars in order to lower the high level of road causalities in Lebanon; furthermore, it is imperative that the government of Lebanon reconsider restructuring its public transport policy to find solutions for the stagnant traffic problem (metro infrastructure for example) to satisfy the growing needs of the soaring Lebanese population in the light of the current degrading state of roads.