I THINK it is high time that we call the Traffic Department the Saher Department. We can deal with this department like other departments.
Since the launch of the Saher program, all other traffic-policing duties have been neglected. Talk about licenses, parking violations, abiding by traffic signs and wearing seatbelts has ended.
General work has halted at the Traffic Department and we are now fully engaged with Saher. Today, when you examine statistical figures, you can see that all the achievements of the Traffic Department are attributed to Saher.
People’s traffic-related problems are only explained in the Saher context. People no longer think about the Traffic Department or policemen but only about Saher’s cameras, surveillance vehicles or penalty notices.
We no longer hear about seatbelts, traffic courts or driving licenses. We hear only about Saher taking decisions, Saher reducing cases of vehicle collisions, Saher installing more cameras in Jeddah, Saher is striving to improve one thing or the other, etc. We are kept awake day and night hearing about Saher.
The man who brought in the concept of Saher has reduced the chances of other traffic violations being noted down. So, there are no longer any violations related to wearing seatbelts, parking illegally or even driving the right way. He also decided to centralize our budget into a single account.
I remember that 10 years ago, we were constantly told traffic courts would be set up.
At a regular interval of every three or four years, an undersecretary or director general at the Ministry of Justice appeared to give us the happy news that the setting up of traffic courts was imminent.
After some years we came to know that those who speak about traffic courts are newly appointed directors and that they use this “pledge” as a way to build their relations with the media. It has become a hook to introduce the new director general to us.
But I never heard two words about the Traffic Department — training and employment. Society has forgotten the fact that the Traffic Department is in need of them.
The Saudi population has doubled and roads have expanded tenfold. The number of vehicles has increased tremendously. At the same time, we do not hear about any plan or strategy to cope with this situation.
Thousands of young Saudi men and women are taking advantage of the King’s scholarship program. I have not heard of any of them specializing in studies to help them serve in the Traffic Department or of any Saudi officials who have been sent abroad by the Traffic Department to do courses.
Of course, I am not forgetting about the training given earlier to install Saher equipment.
Traffic policemen are standing in the shade of Saher. People have become scared of cameras and not traffic police. The traffic policeman has lost a lot of his awe and prestige. Even though he is a soldier in the armed forces, his presence does not evoke any sense of fear or respect.
Given the current Saudization fever and measures to address the unemployment problem, I ask this question: How many youths have joined the Traffic Department in the past five years?
We and the media are preoccupied with chasing businessmen and talking about Nitaqat and the Saudization of grocery stores and shops for women’s clothing.
We totally forgot the fact that government agencies are also committed to improving their activities as well as modernizing their work methods, in addition to employing more Saudis to meet their requirements.
Saudization is to fill the gap in the number of employees in both government and private sectors alike. Saudization is not just about installing devices and neglecting human beings.