Traffic mayhem adds to Afghan capital's woes

Wed Oct 6, 2010 4:09am EDT
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By Sayed Salahuddin

KABUL (Reuters Life!) - The houses and grand mansions rising in the posh Sher Pur enclave of Kabul are worth millions of dollars, but many of its streets are just potholed dirt roads.

The mud roads contribute to Kabul's traffic problems, and the city's security headaches make them even worse.

Unruly police speed up the wrong side of roads, while major thoroughfares are routinely shut for the protection of government leaders going about their business.

Trigger-happy security men and convoys of heavily armed foreign troops add to the mayhem.

Traffic jams can last hours, even holding up funerals and preventing pregnant women making it to hospital to give birth.

Built to accommodate 200,000 people and 80,000 vehicles, Kabul has a population of more than 4 million people with more than 400,000 vehicles squeezed in.

About 200,000 of the vehicles arrived in the past two years, said Ehsanullah, at Kabul's traffic department, and more are imported daily.

Babies who survive on-the-road births have even been nicknamed for the events that prevented them from making their arrival in hospital. Pet names include "parade day" and "mujahideen victory day," residents say.   Continued...