MYS students address Duqms transportation, pollution issues

The discussions envisaged transport-related legislation, public perception, problems of parking, and comparisons between various modes of transportation. Photo - Times of Oman

Duqm: As the fifth Muscat Youth Summit (MYS) began in Duqm on Sunday, a group of students began addressing a number of transportation issues, including road safety, pollution and the pros and cons of private and public transport.

Facilitated by Peter Oborn, a British urban planner, and Haitham Al Busafi, a young Omani architect, the students' discussions also envisaged transport-related government legislation, public perception, problems of parking, and comparisons between various modes of transportation, including buses, trains and bicycles. Students will spend the next few days trying to formulate a sustainable transportation plan for the upcoming city of Duqm.

Hamad Sultan Al Mahrooqi, a student from the Higher College of Technology, said the issue of transport was an important subject to engage with and he was interested in not only learning more about how to develop a sustainable transportation system, but to share the knowledge he gains at the MYS with other youth.

"If we take the bus, there will be less pollution because the bus can take as many people as five or six cars. It also increases the safety factor by up to 90 per cent," said Al Mahrooqi.

He said it was interesting to use Duqm as a case study because it offers a clean slate. Since there is very little currently here, the students have the freedom to imagine a transportation system that wouldn't have the existing constraints. "We can start from scratch. It's a nice place to start. You have wide open spaces and there will be the train services, too," he added.

While currently the Omani youth don't have much experience with public transportation, the students in the group creating the plan agreed that they would be willing to use it if it were available in Muscat.

Ruba Ali Al Subhi, who studies at GUtech, said the only reason she lives in the student residence on the campus is because there isn't a public bus connecting Halban with the rest of Muscat.

"If there was a bus system, I could get to the campus and around Halban," she said.

Al Subhi said she hoped the plan that she and her colleagues come up with will actually make a difference not just to Duqm, but to other cities in Oman, too. Her main motivation for participating in the MYS was to help build a better tomorrow, she added.

"I wanted to be able to speak to those in authority so that we can have a better future," Al Subhi commented.

Facilitator Haitham Al Busafi, who has worked with the MYS earlier, said he was impressed by the students' knowledge and willingness to think about so many aspects of public transportation and how it affects urban life in a variety of ways. "What I enjoy is the spirit they have. They really aren't fearful and they say whatever is on their minds. That's what's interesting about the MYS," Al Busafi said.


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