Tunisia’s crisis is extending beyond merely politics or the cost of living which is punishing its citizens every day. Now, it emerges that Tunisia’s roads, severely under funded and lacking proper services, are taking their toll.
Road deaths in Tunisia have increased by more than 30 per cent in the first few month of this year compared to the same period last year, National Observatory for Traffic Safety data shows, reports The National.
The UAE journal’s correspondent in Tunis claims that as of April 20, a total of 317 people were reported dead and 1,987 injured, the observatory’s spokesman Mourad Jouini told Mosaïque radio on April 24th.
Mr Jouini noted that despite the lower number of accidents compared to last year, there had been a remarkable increase in deaths.
The most common causes for accidents were speeding, not conforming to traffic signs and drink-driving.
But motorists have also complained that improvements to basic infrastructure are necessary to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles on the roads.
One driver, Mayssa Zitouni, 25, told The National: “The roads cannot accommodate us any more, the number of cars is increasing and people start breaking the law just to get away from traffic whenever they’re stuck.
“We lack basic street signs, traffic lights sometimes don’t function and some roads don’t even have clear designated lanes and you just find yourself lost out there.”
The latest data indicates the majority of the accidents take place in Tunis, which is the most densely populated region, followed by Nabeul, Gafsa and Mahdia governorates.
“It’s truly a forest out there, if you already know the road you’re good, if you don’t, you’ll face lots of surprises,” Ms Zitouni said.
She also believes that women face more challenges on the road in Tunisia due inherent sexism.
“People feel like they are in some sort of competition … I was driving once and a guy with a bigger vehicle overtook my car and intentionally kept driving slowly to hinder me … I do not see that happening whenever my father is driving, for instance,” she said.
Ms Zitouni said such behaviour puts everyone in danger and pushes even the most peaceful person to act in a similar way merely to survive on the way back home.
“Combining all these elements [drivers’ behaviour and road conditions] together gives us a dangerous combo that could explain the situation,” she said.