Rain and Chaos on the Streets

Rain and Chaos on the StreetsRain and Chaos on the Streets

Moderate rainfall a few days ago left Tehran city with huge traffic jams for hours together. The deluge also caused water logging in some parts of the capital with storm water drains overflowing despite being apparently cleaned by municipal workers.

Although the Tehran Urban Management Organization and Tehran Municipality (TM) are responsible for the smooth functioning of public services, they normally blame vehicles for all the city’s civic woes.

Many people had to wait in the streets for one hour or longer to find a bus or taxi, the Persian language newspaper ‘Iran’ reported.

While the interval between buses should be 15-20 minutes, even moderate rainfall prolongs the wait to more than an hour.  The question also arises as to why city taxi drivers stop their regular public commuting on rainy days and only accept private passengers? On a regular basis they carry four passengers, but it is often seen that on rainy days and when it snows they cater mainly to “private services” for a much higher fare.

The situation in subways was not much better than surface transport. All the subway lines were overwhelmed to the extent that people had to get on trains through special tricks! Furthermore, most neighborhoods in the sprawling metropolis do not have access to the metro that is still in expansion mode.

It seems that poor monitoring of public transport is the main culprit for city traffic congestion on wet days. Water logging due to poor civic infrastructure is also to be blamed.

Unlike the TM and Urban Management officials, transport experts, traffic police and city councilors claim that water logging is the main cause for traffic congestion on rainy days. One is indeed at a loss to understand why other major cities in the world, with less money, much higher rainfall and larger populations, do not suffer to this extent from  similar hassles.

Eghbal Shakeri, a member of the Tehran City Council, says that although instances of water logging have lessened this year compared to the previous years, the problem still persists and exacerbates the movement of vehicles and people.

Street flooding is the main cause of road traffic congestion and police efforts to monitor traffic can reduce it by hardly 10%, he said.

 Substandard Drains

Substandard water outlets and gutters are the main reasons for water logging. “Unfortunately, storm water drains in the capital lack ‘geometric congruence.’ Most of them have wrong dimensions and inadequate slope,” the councilor was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

He also said the open drainage system is vulnerable to clogging, as people throw trash, unmindful of the blockage to the smooth flow of water.

In response to the criticisms, Asghar Ataei, director general of civic utilities at the TM, said all the water drains are at a depth of 5 to 10 meters underground and out of sight; therefore claims about clogging are incorrect.

“We pay a high price to municipal contractors for cleaning and maintenance of the water drains,” he said.

According to a study recently conducted by the Tehran Urban Planning & Research Center (TUPRC), the rate of fatal accidents increases by 2.3% in rainy weather.

Today, providing strategies to reduce or eliminate traffic congestion and problems associated with it is among the top priority of urban managers all over the world.

City traffic congestion is due to multiple causes. The presence of three million automobiles on Tehran is one of the main factors contributing to the snarling traffic even on normal days. When it rains or snows, several other factors including poor civic infrastructure, come into play.