BEIRUT: As the Lebanese army underwent drills Friday for the upcoming Independence Day, a traffic blockage of record size engulfed Lebanon's highways and roads from Tabarja through Beirut and into the Chouf area.
Incidents and problems were myriad.
A skirmish between two motorists led to the stabbing of a LibanPost employee. The perpetrator, experiencing a near-fatal case of road-rage, stabbed the postman with a knife several times. The victim was left to bleed in front of the Electricité du Liban headquarters until the Red Cross made it through the traffic a manager at LibanPost confirmed that their employee survived and is recovering in hospital.
They declined to reveal his identity and it is unknown if the assailant was captured.
Meanwhile, A woman went into labor while stuck in traffic near City Mall, with an ambulance unable to respond.
An officer was dispatched to assist, yet irritated motorists began merging behind the officer, blocking what was supposed to be a safe passage for the couple.
As of press time, the woman’s status is unknown.
There was fainting, a possible heart attacks and other incidents.
The ISF issued a statement on their website on Wednesday, November 14 announcing the closure of roads leading to Shafiq al Wazzan Avenue on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday. However, it seems that the information failed to reach Lebanon's citizens.
To add to the road blockages, heavy rain at around 10 am caused flooding, only worsening the situation. A hefty truck tipped over from Antelias Bridge onto the road, falling completely sideways.
Elsewhere along the autostade, stuck in his car for three hours along with all the other commuters, Hani Hassan, a professor at the American University of Beirut, was forced cancel his morning class.
“To be honest, I was not aware of the announcement about the independence parade exercises," he told Annahar,.
“This was completely uncalled for,” said Lynn Karam, a Multimedia and Journalism student at LAU. “This could have easily been done at night, at a time, at least to decrease the traffic.”
Some students were also a no-show. Hadi Afif, who travels from Mansourieh to AUB on a daily basis, missed his class due to the parade preparations. "It’s absolutely ridiculous,” he said.
Traffic jams are the norm in Beirut, and employers have become unaccustomed to tardiness. “My shift starts at 8:30 and I arrived at the office at 11, which is unbelievable”, Vanessa Odicho, a staff member at ABC Dbayeh, told Annahar while on a coffee break.
“Thank goodness my employer was reasonable. It’s like we got used to the lifestyle but all we do is honk at the other cars as if it will change something! Even talking about this will not change anything either,” she added.
Prominent politician Paula Yacoubian also called for the cancellation of army rehearsals via Twitter, before The LAF issue a formal apology during the afternoon. noting:
"The Army Command apologizes to the traffic jam caused by our preparations, and we appreciate your understanding," the statement read, adding that the drills have been moved to Sunday and Tuesday, both holidays.
-- With Chrystine Mhanna, Pearla Kantarjian, Rolande El Ghusayni, Fatima Mahmoud, Carla Richi,
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