A Necessary Evil: Baghdad’s Security Checkpoints Bringing City to Halt
With an increasing number of checkpoints in Baghdad making an already stilted traffic flow even worse, it feels as if the capital’s road network is at breaking point. Stressed and unable to get anywhere on time, locals are spending more on taxis and fist fighting in traffic jams.
Iraqi man Othman Mohammed left Iraq 15 years ago and now he’s a very well travelled world citizen. Only a few hours after his arrival back into Baghdad though, he was already proclaiming that the capital’s traffic jams were the worst in the world.
As for the taxis and the way they plied their trade, this was even more upsetting, Mohammed said. “The fares charged here are unlike any others in the world,” the disgruntled traveller said. “Here the fares may increase during the trip, depending on the traffic.”
Mohammed is not the only person to complain about traffic in Baghdad. Because even though it’s never been pretty – the same situation as in many other capital cities around the world – now it seems to be going beyond what even the locals can stand. One of the major reasons for the continuously problematic traffic is the presence of military checkpoints on Baghdad roads – these have been deployed at the entrances to neighbourhoods, near bridges and on main arteries since 2006, and the start of sectarian violence that almost led to a civil war in Iraq. But their numbers seem to keep increasing. There are currently thought to be around 200 checkpoints in central Baghdad and many drivers go through more than three a day.
The situation is getting so bad that on Monday this week, the Ministry of the Interior issued a statement saying that it had held a meeting to bring together security leaders and traffic officers to discuss the situation.