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Traffic Management Center will be up all night to ensure safety
The Lebanese Traffic Management Center in Beirut, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
The Lebanese Traffic Management Center in Beirut, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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BEIRUT: The Lebanese Traffic Management Center, whose work has gained popularity following the “Alexa” storm, announced a series of measures Monday ahead of New Year’s Eve, including providing free taxis, in a bid to reduce the number of car accidents and facilitate transportation.

The campaign, “You party, we’ll stay alert,” entails a series of precautionary measures taken by the center, the Internal Security Forces and the Lebanese Army.

It will include a team of 25 noncommissioned officers who will be working at the center starting Dec. 31 at 10 a.m. and ending at 6 a.m. the next day. The officers’ work will be divided to cover all Lebanese districts.

The ISF and the Army will conduct patrols across areas in Lebanon to guarantee organized vehicle movement and avoid congested traffic.

The center has also arranged for the installation of checkpoints across the capital to conduct alcohol testing. If someone is proven too drunk to drive, a taxi cab will be called on his behalf.

The most significant part of the campaign is TMC’s cooperation with the taxi syndicate in a bid to provide free taxis for partygoers and to ensure the safe transportation of individuals to prevent drunk driving.

There are approximately 30 employees at TMC’s 24-hour operation, located in the Beirut area of Corniche al-Nahr.

The staff include members of the ISF as well as engineers and technicians who work on managing traffic lights and carrying out other technical duties. The center has cameras set up around the country, usually used during rush hours and for car accidents.

The department falls within the organizational structure of the Traffic Management Order, which works with the support of the Interior Ministry. Its Twitter account, @tmcLebanon, now has over 10,000 followers.

Attending the news conference were representatives of caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and acting head of the ISF Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous. The conference was followed by a guided tour of the center.

According to Capt. Michel Moutran, TMC’s operational manager, the purpose of the campaign is to ensure zero car-related deaths on New Year’s Eve.

This will entail a fortification of security forces on Lebanon’s main roads and highways, particularly outside nightclubs, restaurants and malls, usually packed on the occasion

Head of the center Col. Marcelino Farah urged citizens Monday to drive as carefully as possible, respect the speed limit, refrain from speaking on the phone while driving and not consume large quantities of alcohol before getting behind the wheel.

TMC’s initiative coincides with the Interior Ministry’s “Don’t drink and drive” campaign.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 31, 2013, on page 4.
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