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Three cars were involved in a collision near our house yesterday evening. One of them ended up in a wall. One older man was injured, possibly a child as well. I was in the yard, so I heard it but thankfully I didn't see it. I was impressed by the speed with which the ambulance turned up - it took no more than 15 minutes before it arrived.

In one way it was surprising it has taken this long for a serious accident to happen in our street. It's not that the street itself is dangerous - it is straight, wide and well paved. The problem is that because it is straight, wide and well paved it attracts every idiot in a car and on a motorbike in Tirana. Once, I was pleased to see the road being paved, now I wish it was still a rutted dirt track - it was a lot safer then.

I regularly watch cars speeding on this street, overtaking more responsible drivers at high speed, slamming on the brakes for no other reason than the thrill of hearing shrieking rubber and more. Just a few days ago I watched some young fool on a motorbike with his girlfriend on the back - neither wearing helmets - repeatedly riding up and down at high speed pulling wheelies.

The street is often full of kids. As well as those who live in the street and play outside, lots of families heading for the park walk through this way. Yet nothing is ever done. Because there are a number of diplomats living in the area there are regular police patrols. I have never yet seen them ticket anyone; never even seen them stop and talk to someone driving dangerously.

More incomprehensible is that the people living in the area don't do anything. If this was happening where I am from, people would be giving their local representatives and the police no rest until some action was taken. If there was no action they would be putting up their own barriers, taking pictures and videos of these idiots and passing them on to the media, inviting the TV channels to come and report the story, holding a protest rally and blocking the streets.

But here, nothing happens. Can someone explain this to me? Because I don't understand this.


nick said…
Well, you just showed us an article talking about 12 hour power cuts. Every country that has those, cannot be expected to have its top priority stopping fools on the streets with chubby girlfriends on the back of their motorcycles for speeding (lol!) They have so many things to do and so many priorities that sometimes I think they dont do anything at all!
tetena said…
Because e bit of fatalism Albanians have before death and half un century of communism were state doing all – I think
ITS said…
I think the Albanians hope for Darwinism to take charge of this problem.

Darwinism in Albania seems to be more efficient then local politicians or the po-police.

Last week I believe an Albanian member of the Parliament (part of the political class you mentioned) was found dead on a car crash scene with his mistress/secretary/hoe. According to the police aftermath it was found that the guy was driving at 170 Km/hour.
DAI said…
very similar reactions take place also in Italy. I wrote about my experience of 2 years ago (my blog archive dated August 13, 2005) about 2 cars crashing against my building, right underneath my bedroom window....I’ve also discussed at length with Italian friends why they don’t react to some unbearable situations in their country, and they all shrugged their shoulders saying “we are powerless dealing with a mass of state employees that doesn’t function and nothing is going to change….”!! It’s very unfortunate, but
Albanians are the same -- they don’t believe in the power of individuals, and after centuries of oppressions, they easily give up!!
bryan-in-greece said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
bryan-in-greece said…
The same thing happens here in Greece - I put it down to a lack of road safety awareness and public education about what sort of injuries people get when involved in road accidents, as well as a lack of adequate policing. Plus, there seems to be an "it will never happen to me, God will look after me" attitude, which may go some way to the common trend of having a cross dangling from the rear-view mirror. Seat-belts won't save those people's lives, it has to be assumed, but a tacky cross to grab at as they go flying through the windscreen will...

In a similar vein, I often wonder at mothers who are more than happy to wheel their tiny offspring along in a pram on the road (not on the pavement), with cars speeding by a few inches from the baby. Never been able to understand that - you would think the motherly protective instinct would be gasping in sheer horror at the danger, but obviously not...
strangeMAN said…
You can be surprised at what people can get used to. Here exeptatives are superlow. Nobody expects nothing from anyone. People don't expect the police to do anything, they're not paid enough. Representatives, they're just a bunch of corrupt hypocrites, they just don't care. It's the jungle life type of thinking. Maybe not where you live, but almost everywhere here, people have a hard time to provide enough food for themselves. For them it is not about living, it is much more about surviving. I don't know if I'm clear enough. And there is then, another part of the population, that thinks they can get away with everything. And most of them are right. You can. Pimping, drug-dealing, murder, you name it. I could go on for 100 pages explaining why we are what we are, and why we do what we do. I ofen ask myself what would it take to shake people, make them react, but have failed to answer so far.

Sorry for the long comment. I got carried away, but just like you, I sometimes can't belive what I see here in my beloved country. So now there is two of us. I know there is more. My hope is that our number is growing daily. Sometimes this hope is confirmed by facts, sometimes it is not. So... let's all hope.
Anonymous said…
I agree with Bryan, it's about education of the public
Anonymous said…
Unless authorities do something about this, dont expect random people in the streets to change their behaviour. During Communism Alwyn, these people behaved better. There were no accident because there were no cars. When there was an accident and some innocent bystander died for example, you got 7-10 years in jail.

Believe it or not, only an authoritarian ruler can discipline Albanians. Democracy so far has been messy and anarchic.

If the police gave a big fat ticket of 150 bucks to these renegades maybe next time they'll respect the rules.

Anonymous said…
Most probably, your neighbours are saying the same after their windows, complaining that no one raises the voice etc. But you are a resident in that street, the same as your neighbours. So, if you want to do some thing about the problem why are you waiting for the others to react? Do something yourself.
Anonymous said…
i agree with everyone trying to explain why there is no reactin at all. so far, people not reacting at all, is what makes me really angry and worried about my country. no one ever says nothing, or at least they dont find the right way to raise their voice. i do wonder what it would take to make people react, but they are so used to evrything and what's even worst they dont believe things can change, they're too tired. it will take a little bit more for people to understand the meaning of democracy and rights&duty. but as someone mentioned above, its the same in so many other EU countries. i live in italy, its the same here.
our man said…
I can just imagine the outrage from people if I, a foreigner, decided to organise a blockade of the street. Albanians need to solve problems for themselves, not rely on outsiders.

And yes we do regularly call the attention of the authorities to problems in this area regarding noise, suspicious activity and dumping of rubbish.
ITS said…

It's really unfortunate to still have people who think along your lines.

You are basically saying that "Albanians don't deserve democracy", "Only dictatorship serves them well... "

It's a really nauseating to read comments like these.

Yes, there were no traffic violations during communisms. Crimes against the person/property were quite rare also...

On the other hand we lived in a criminal state. The state was the greatest offender and violator of basic human rights...

/ah.... why do I even bother...
Arben said…

Maybe i was not clear enough. When i said authoritarian, i didnt mean dictatorship. I meant a strong state who will enforce strict laws.

And yes Democracy so far has been messy and anarchic. If those cops did their job and fined bad drivers instead of accepting bribes, Albania would be a better place.

We need strong modern institutions and a strong leader/figure who will take charge.
Lars said…
I remember a street in Tirana that was blocked by neighbours with the top of a bunnker, because half of the city started to use the narrow road as a shortcut.

So, there is something useful you can do with bunkers - and there are Albanians who resist.
our man said…
Strangeman, I would love to hear more of your thoughts on why Albania is the way it is, and the rest of you locals too.

I think that boys on motorbikes with their girlfriends (she was actually slim and quite attractive) are a serious problem. The costs to the health system, for example, of traffic accidents is huge.

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Welcome to Our Man in Tirana. I moved to Tirana, capital of Albania, in October 2005 and left in October 2007. This blog is a mix of photographs, reports, links, impressions and, undoubtedly, prejudices relating to the city and the country.

Since I am no longer in Tirana I am no longer updating this blog. However, there are over 300 posts covering this two year period and I hope that they are still of some interest.

So if you are curious about Albania or if you are planning to visit I hope this blog will be of value.

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