Satellites and cameras to monitor traffic violations
By HABIB SHAIKH (Jeddah Letter)

25 May 2007

THE Traffic Department is to undertake a SR1 billion project to monitor traffic violations across the country using satellites and cameras, according to its Director-General Maj. Gen. Fahad Al Bishr.

The new electronic-monitoring system, the largest project of its kind in the kingdom, aims at cutting down road accidents that eat up five per cent of the country’s gross domestic product annually. The implementation of the new electronic monitoring system comes ahead of introducing a new traffic law.

Al Bishr said that cameras would be installed to register numbers of violating vehicles; the registration of violation will then be passed on to the data centre. He added that the driver will be informed of the violation and he will have the right to object.

Payment of traffic tickets are essential to complete procedures at the Passport Department like issuance and renewal of passport, iqama (resident permit), civil status card, vehicle permit and driving licence, issuance of visas for non-Saudis and recruitment of foreign manpower. ‘The new project will help identify the number plates of cars wanted by police including stolen cars and cars driven by suspected criminals, and locate them easily,’ Al Bishr said.

The Traffic Department in Jeddah will carry out a campaign to enlighten the public before experimental operation of the system after installing the cameras at specific roads that witness increasing number of traffic violations such a crossing the red light and overspeeding. Later on it will be applied to all parts of the kingdom.

Traffic violations in the kingdom have increased considerably in recent years rising by 349 per cent in 2004 compared to the figure in 1996. Every minute at least 11 traffic violations take place on the kingdom’s roads.

According to statistics issued by the Interior Ministry’s data centre, about 78 per cent of the victims of traffic violations are below the age of 46. People injured in traffic accidents occupy about one third of hospital beds.

Al Bishr attributed the huge number of traffic accidents in the kingdom to a growing population and increasing use of vehicles. ‘We have to consider these factors and work out a strategy to reduce traffic violations and accidents,’ he said.

During the last five years, traffic departments have registered more than 1.36 million accidents that caused the deaths of 21,900 people and injured 122,600 others. In 2004 alone, 5,168 people died and 348,100 others were injured in 293,200 accidents across the country.
Youth programme HQ inaugurated

THE headquarters of the Prince Muhammad bin Fahd Programme for Youth Development was inaugurated by Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defence and aviation, in Dammam recently.

The building also houses the Eastern Province Youth Club, according to a Press statement issued by the office of the Eastern Province Governor Prince Muhammad bin Fahd. Spread over 7,400 square metres, the building has been built in line with the latest architectural standards.

The youth programme aims to tackle the problems faced by Saudi youths and also focuses on the development of their skills — intellectually, physically, culturally and socially. It also aims at developing their skills in sports.

Prince Muhammad launched the programme in view of the increasing number of young Saudi graduates looking for jobs and related social problems.

The programme, which was originally launched seven years ago under the name Prince Muhammad bin Fahd Programme for Training and Employing Saudi Youth, has helped a large number of educated youth find suitable jobs.