The need to resolve an increasingly nightmarish traffic situation seems to be on top of the agenda in Lebanon.
"The first step in getting ready for the end of year holiday season is dealing with our traffic," Brigadier General Joseph Doueihy, who is in charge of traffic regulations in Beirut, said on Friday.
AdvertisementThe issue is at the top of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's agenda, whose first stint as a statesman is bogged down by citizens' complaints of impossible traffic across the capital and its environs.
Frustrated drivers are late to work, run out of gas in hours-long traffic, or have to be towed out of flooded roads with the early winter rains.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic is expected to only worsen as the New Year nears, with a record number of visitors hitting the streets in the tiny Mediterranean country which expects to host a record two million tourists by the end of 2010, according to tourism ministry figures.
Doueihy told AFP that 330 officers had been stationed on streets across Beirut on Friday alone to help control increasingly hopeless traffic.
And while Lebanon has introduced road safety measures in recent years, such as traffic lights, electricity is rationed and often leaves the streets, and drivers, in the dark.
Hariri's government, which faces a vote of confidence in parliament next week, has listed traffic and road conditions among its top priorities in its policy statement.