SIDON, Lebanon: Sidon’s Mayor Mohammad al-Saudi announced changes Tuesday to the southern city’s strict car-free marketplace security policy following criticism from the area’s merchants. While Saudi emphasized that the municipal council would “save no effort to take the necessary measures to safeguard the residents’ lives and peace,” he also said that shop owners would now be allowed to park within the marketplace.
Starting Monday the municipality “will allow the owners of the shops in the market to park their cars in five parking lots inside the market,” he said, noting that the vehicles would be thoroughly examined and the drivers should obtain identification cards from the municipality.”
Saudi’s move came following criticism of security measures imposed by the municipality last week.
In the wake of car bomb attacks that killed 77 people in Beirut and north Lebanon last month, as of Aug. 27 cars were prohibited from entering the city’s central marketplace and only small- to medium-size delivery vehicles were permitted through one entry point to unload goods. The measures also prevented cars, buses and other vehicles from parking by the road within the souk, and customers were allowed in and out of the market through one entrance only.
Earlier Tuesday, during a tour of the market place, Popular Nasserite Organization Secretary-General Osama Saad strongly criticized the measures and questioned their feasibility.
Although Saad acknowledged that the measures were intended to “protect the souls and properties of Sidon’s residents,” following the tour, he relayed shop owners’ complaints “about the decrease in the commercial activity in the market due to the measures.”
He also demanded that more parking lots be provided for the market area’s merchants, workers and customers.
However, Saad also spoke in favor of more widespread security measures.
“The security measures should be comprehensive and not limited to the marketplace, the government Serail and the houses of the political leaders. They should be implemented in all the city’s neighborhoods, especially those which are highly populated,” he said.
In his remarks, Saudi added that “additional regulatory measures will be announced gradually and will include various neighborhoods and streets in the city.”