Beirut's traffic crisis has been getting worse for a while now, only becoming more unbearable and intolerable. But the real problem resides in the fact that heavy traffic is beginning to paralyze the country.
Overpopulation, narrow streets (or as Lebanese like to call them, "Zwerib") and unconscious car parking are some of the factors that contribute to our daily struggle on the roads.
In a country that reels under the weight of a serious refugee crisis, roads are becoming saturated. People are trying to avoid driving as much as possible - not that it is much possible given that public transportations in Lebanon are not the best out there.
Dr. Khaled A. Taki has announced his idea of how to solve the country's traffic problem. Since there is no possibility of building new highways or subway tunnels, Taki suggested a completely new method: maritime transport.
Sea Taxi is a tried-and-true way of transportation that already exists in countries such as Greece, Turkey, the UK and New Zealand.
After two years of brainstorming, the idea was considered well-researched enough to be presented to the State.
As reported by Beirut Water Taxi, the project requires specialized ships that meet the highest safety standards and public places in the Lebanese ports - which can be granted a 20-year lease to build the fully equipped piers, which will include commercial shops, restaurants, and other hot destinations.
In order for the idea to become reality, moral and legislative support from the government branches is needed as well as legislative decrees and licenses for maritime transport.
The Beirut Water Taxi team stated that the company is to be funded by the private sector through a franchise system.
The project is said to generate a large financial return to the government treasury as well as provide employment opportunities through the pier stations and the shopping facilities.
The country will also witness growth in the tourism industry across all the coastal cities of Lebanon, starting from Tyre, Sidon, Beirut, Jounieh, Jbeil, Tripoli and the maintenance garage in the port of Jieh.
What you should know about the Beirut water taxi:
- It will cost 6,000 LL ($4 USD) for a 25-minute ride from Beirut to Jounieh (same price as a service taxi)
- There will be 3 types of boats: "Shuttles" carrying up to 160 people, "Clippers" up to 220 people and "VIP" speed taxis carrying 16 people.
- It will run from 6 in the morning till 9 at night
- They plan to use Australian-made Catamarans with 30-knot power
- It will include bus services to transport passengers from the dock to destinations in the city.
- It will operate all year round
- Passengers are insured up to $250,000 (USD)
- It will create about 15,000 jobs
- It will start transporting about 10,000 people daily but eventually grow to accommodate 50,000 people a day.
- It will cut back at least 25% of the influx of cars into Beirut.
Beirut Water Taxi and the Lebanese are "awaiting the WILL of the Lebanese government to provide the coastal land where the private sector can build and run the stations, and transport daily over 100,000 passengers to and from Beirut."