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|Yemeni Highways: Between Deterioration and Repair|
Article Date: April 21, 2008
In preparation of patching and repairing 950 km of asphalt roads nationwide by Highways Repair Fund, observers and citizens notice that most Yemeni roads and highways stretching over 12,500 km are in poor or mediocre condition and badly in need for repair, maintenance and patching.
Roads and bridges projects use up billions of Yemeni rials from the state's general budget as well as hundreds of millions of US dollars every year in loans and grants; however, these projects are not properly implemented.
Several engineers surveyed by the Yemen Post indicated that poor engineering planning, especially of highways, is the key reason for damaged and poor highways.
Others stressed that the problem is with standards and materials used during the different processes of asphalting, hinting that sometimes the problems from those who play with standards, or the insufficient supervision of contractors.
They also assure that the roughness of roads, which lack water drainage outlets are reasons for quick obsolescence of roads, noting that highways and roads are in need for supportive wall-structures and drainage channels in order to prevent floods from washing roads away.
Engineers of consulting companies view the insufficiency to stem from the lack of supervision by consulting companies which are supposed to play a role in supervising and inspecting highway projects, and to make sure that they are implemented according to the safety and quality specifications.
Organized by Highways Maintenance Fund, the Minister of Public Works and Roads, at the conclusion of a workshop that involved seven contracting companies and seven consulting offices, pointed out that the highway system in Yemen needs setting mechanisms and techniques to safeguard and maintain them.
Director of Highways Maintenance Fund Engineer Anees Al-Samawi stated to the Yemen Post that his fund receives only 7 percent of the revenues and allocations, emphasizing that regular maintenance is important to keep the highways in good condition and to prolong their age.
Al-Samawi insinuated that some roads have not been maintained for 30 years and declared that the workshop aims to qualify consultants and contractors who are supposed to maintain 950 km of asphalted highways nationwide.
He added that the workshop will work on identifying the contractors with their work and how to plan the budget for the projects as well as teaching the supervisors on how to inspect and supervise the maintenance works, hinting they will receive no money only after they finish their work according to the tender documents.
He noted that the fund has initiated a new technique for maintenance, aiming to resolve road problems which cause more material and human losses, maintaining the World Bank will cover 60 percent of the project costs, while the rest will be covered by government.
Engineer Nabila Hamid, in charge of the project implementation, asserted that Yemen is among the first countries to adopt PMMR system in roads building, and it will help decrease the number of traffic accidents, as these roads will be free from potholes and uneven pavement.
Hamid added that the new technique dictates that a sum of money is deducted against one asphalted kilometer in return for administering and maintaining it. She hinted that the focus is on quality but not quantity.
Yemeni highway system is one of the worst worldwide and suffers from potholes, uneven pavement and design flaws.
Bad roads are to blame for the increased traffic accidents which mounted by the end of 2007 to 14,740 accidents claiming lives of 2781 citizens and causing light injuries to 10,150 others as well as 9,148 serious injuries. Some experts believe that road design flaws and other problems are responsible for 40 percent of accidents.
Yemen has recently received big sums of money for improving and repairing roads and highways the last of which was signing the agreement of rural roads program with the Saudi Fund for Development at $50 million. The agreement is one of four agreements mounting to $225 million.