21 June 2007

Home of Motorsports in the Middle East

Bahrain; a great country, filled with great developments, and the first country in the region to build a Formula One circuit and host the Formula One races. Coupled with that, it also promotes itself as the home of motorsports in the Middle-East, focusing on all types of races, whether Formula BMW, Thunder Arabia races, Drag Racing, Rally or any of the multitude of available types of motorsports. A large part of the country's residents are also avid car enthusiasts, and you see this on any regular day, with people taking excellent care of their cars, putting in their money and effort to keep them in top shape and customize them the way they want, with many of the motorsport clubs organizing monthly and annual car shows and events. Infact, the Crown Prince himself is an avid car enthusiast with an astonishing car collection. In addition, due to a highly unefficient (and almost non-existent) public transportation system, cars have been pretty much the only way to get around, and us Bahraini's have always had a passion for them.

You would assume that the whole infrastructure of the country is set to accomodate for a country with such a passion for vehicles and motorsports.

But then, you would be wrong.

Why is it the traffic department (Ministry of Tansportation), is totally oblivious to the above? The traffic wardens sent out to monitor the roads, keep them safe, and watch out for violations obviously have no clue about what this country is aiming to be.

Car modification is an art, and besides the history its had in our country, it has also been catapulted to fame by shows such as "Pimp my Ride", movies like "The Fast & the Furious", as well as its depiction in mass-media including music videos, magazines, etc

With the love of cars, bikes, trucks etc in Bahrain, also comes a large portion of the people that love to modify their vehicles. Obviously there are some allowed aspects to car modification, while others are deemed prohibited, and these vary from country to country. With a country such as Bahrain, which hosts many a motorsport event, and tries to encourage more and more people to get into one of these many events around the kingdom, you would expect a reasonable state of tolerance as to the rules that govern vehicle modification. Obviously not those that decrease safety features or, for example, produce more pollution etc etc. But in general, there should be an at least semi-open leniance towards some of these modifications.

But not in Bahrain.

A friend installed a new front bumper on his vehicle. Nothing to affect his engine, emissions, speed, safety, or anything else besides the look of the vehicle. So, a new front bumper, which made his car stand out a little more. He was ecstatic with his new car-mod.

A few days later, he is stopped by a traffic warden who issued him a ticket for modifying his car with a "non-factory spec" bumper.


Another case in point; another friend purchased a vehicle which came with window tint. That's straight from the factory; the actual glass was tinted, it wasn't covered with tint-film. And yes, again, he was stopped and actually given a ticket for it, even after explaining that this tint was one of the stock car specification. But obviously this wasn't the traffic wardens problem.

Ok... Another situation:

I took my car for annual inspection. Now I have an exhaust system that is a little louder than usual. Went to get it inspected, passed with flying colors, got my car registered and went on my merry old way. A few days later, i'm given a ticket because my exhaust is too loud - and not only that, but the traffic warden almost had my car confiscated! Why the hell would you pass a car during the regular inspection then?

The list of examples goes on and on.. Lets not spend too much time discussing how the traffic wardens in the above situations came to the conclusion that these, in any shape or form, would constitute a traffic offence, since i'm assuming that to be hired by the traffic department you need to either pass a test that proves you have an IQ below 50, or you have absolutely no knowledge of the type of vehicles and cars that are being driven around the country. The traffic department, and the traffic wardens in general, seem to as a whole have no idea about the different models and types of cars made. Wouldn't you assume that this comes as part of the job? Case in point:

A friend bought a special edition jeep recently. Straight out of the factory, this jeep came with modified suspension, larger wheels, and a more aggressive stance as compared with the normal edition of this particular vehicle. And yes, as you would expect from our lovely traffic department, his car was confiscated a week later for being "lowered". He had to go to their HQ and argue with a number of people before being forced to go back to the dealership where he bought the vehicle from, and obtain an official letter from them stating that the car was originally lowered by the factory! Needless to say, when his car was released the next day, it wasn't released with a big "oh we're so sorry we caused you all this trouble". They actually couldn't care less, and the person responsible for bringing his car out looked at him as if he was a criminal who just got bail.

Now even though I can go on and on about the lack of common sense, or even common knowledge that you would expect a traffic department in any average country to have, I need to discuss another issue. Let the car modification subject slide for now as it comparitively is a very small issue.

In general, a traffic department is supposedly there to regulate traffic movement and keep the roads safe. Our traffic department, on the other hand, is there to regulate cash flow into the department. Traffic wardens are spread out around the country, and while the a few here and there are seen controlling traffic flow (and not very efficiently, might I add), the majority are distributed around the land looking for traffic offences to give out to fulfil their quota. Anything from the odd "Your front bumper is not factory spec", and "you were driving too slow on the highway" (yes it has happened), to the usual "your window tint is too dark" and "your exhaust is too loud". So they're giving out tickets on the most trivial issues; that's just to keep everyone in check and keep the country safer for people to drive, right?


I am seeing more and more horrible car accidents, serious injuries and increasing deaths in the newspaper day by day. Shouldn't that be a very obvious sign that the traffic department is failing in their most primary duty?

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Sayedco said...

Nice Writing

tell me one thing going right in this country these days


everything is going worse worse and worse

Anonymous said...

god bless you bro :)

Um Naief said...

first, it's really good to see that woman w/ her baby in a car seat! for most ppl i see here, if they were to crash their car like that... a baby or small child would be seriously injured or killed.

i think that the cops around here are busy eating scharmas some place or maybe even donuts, like in the states. i live by a street or large street.... and every night i hear cars going down that street at what sounds like 100+. where are the cops? what about these kids you see out doing wheelies on their motorcycles in the middle of a busy highway.... but no cops. what about all the ppl driving w/out their seatbelts? why isn't that enforced w/ large fines?

when you have a society that doesn't really care about what is legally allowed or accepted, then you'll continue having accidents like this... or when you have ppl driving like maniacs and cops aren't handing out tickets... these accidents will continue to happen.

sorry to go on and on....