Paying Your Online Traffic Tickets And The Uninformed Jordanian Citizen

الأحد 06 تموز 2008

Written By: Naseem Tarawnah

I finally mustered up the courage to log in to the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) website and check out what traffic tickets have been burdened up on this meager Jordanian wage-earner. Ever since the GAM announced that the average citizen (with broadband Internet access) can check out their fines online, courage has become a big factor.

Why? Because today, there are three ways of getting fined in Jordan. The first is the international standard of a traffic policeman stopping you and issuing a paper fine, which you can pay on the spot and save the hassle of having to use your lunch break to deal with unnecessary bureaucracy. The second is having one of the many speeding cameras scattered around Amman take a lovely picture of you. And the third, and perhaps worst, is a traffic policeman seeing you commit a violation, writing the ticket, and then submitting it without your knowledge.

Generally speaking, only in the first case are you, as a citizen, fully aware that you have, indeed, committed a violation and that you are, indeed, being fined for it. In the second case, your violation is standardized and you can’t argue it; unless of course there’s a flaw in the electronics. And as for the third, well, the human factor is so scary that I won’t even go there.

The problem we’re facing here is that the citizen is not in the loop.

To find out about your violations, you have to go to the GAM website (the Arabic mind you, as the English one doesn’t have the same features) and then create an account, and then check out your ticketing stats. What you get is a series of violations that tell you vaguely what you did and when you did it, and of course, the subtotal you need to pay.

Looking at my account I was left wondering if I was even in the country at the time these violations were committed and thinking to myself where I could’ve possibly committed them. Of course, having allegedly committed them weeks and weeks ago, there is no way to argue them. I don’t even remember what I had for dinner three nights ago, do you?

The uninformed Jordanian citizen remains uninformed.

The way the information is presented has changed; the medium of delivery has changed, but the process remains the same.

I have, as many of you probably have, argued my way out of tickets before. When I feel that I, as a citizen, have been the subject of an injustice, no matter how small it is, I have the right to defend myself. And many times when I feel that such an injustice has taken place I will fight it, and more often than not, I will win the bigger argument. Other times, I will admit my mistake and gladly take the fine.

The way the GAM has set things up, you can no longer put up a fight. You must succumb to the whims of a traffic officer who might have seen you change lanes without signaling and scribbled down your license plate number as fast as he could, as you sped on by.

Can they at least mail the photographic evidence to you, as is done in various other civilized nations where such a system exists?

What do you think?

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