Independence Day Parade Drills Paralyze Beirut Traffic
The Lebanese Army’s preparations for next week's Independence Day military parade caused choking traffic Friday morning after a number of main roads were closed at the entrance to Beirut.
Several drivers interviewed by local TV stations said they had been sitting in traffic for nearly two hours to make the roughly 20-kilometer trip from Jounieh to Beirut.
The Army's leadership apologized for the traffic in a statement shared via Twitter, asking for "understanding” from citizens.
An Army source said the roads had been closed at 6:30 a.m. and that there was no set time for the drills to finish. The source said the same road closures are expected Saturday, Monday and Wednesday to rehearse for the Independence Day celebrations, set to take place Nov. 22.
The source said the preparations were taking place at the entrance to Beirut because that is where the parade is going to be held.
They also noted that the Army had released a statement on the matter earlier this week that warned which roads would be closed, and therefore drivers bore some responsibility for using those roads anyway.
“We do this every year, it’s not a new thing to the Lebanese people,” the source said.
But the source acknowledged that closing the main entrances to Beirut was certain to cause traffic regardless of precautions drivers could have taken.
While the Army issued an apology, the source stopped short of saying that the Army bore responsibility for the gridlock. “It’s not an issue of responsibility, these are preparations for a military parade for our national Independence Day.”
The traffic has caused a large outpouring of anger online.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team