Transport crisis | Poor services in regime-controlled areas hit students with unaffordable costs and force many to drop out
Since the start of fuel crisis in regime-controlled areas, public transportation has been greatly affected as a result of the lack of state-subsidized fuel, which has forced residents to use private buses and taxies whose fees are high and unaffordable for many. The high fees of private transportation are attributed to the fact that the owners of such vehicles are forced to buy fuel from the black market at higher prices than in petrol stations. This crisis has mainly hit students, particularly university students, preventing many from continuing their education due to the difficult and expensive trip to school or university, especially with the deteriorating living conditions and economic hardship in Syria as a result of the international sanctions imposed on the Syrian regime.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) has shed light on the suffering of university students who are facing various obstacles hindering their education. A female student known by her initials as R.G. recounted to SOHR her sufferings while traveling to her university, saying “with the start of the recent fuel crisis in Damascus, I faced various challenges while traveling to my collage, the Faculty of Law, in Al-Baramekah area in Damascus. Before the crisis, I had to take two taxies to my collage, as I live in Al-Mazza area, but when the fuel crisis started to escalate, I have become unable to go to the university due to the fights among passengers while attempting to get in the taxi, the overcrowded roads and the young males’ scramble on taxies and buses. All of these factors have forced me to stay at home for several months, as my family cannot afford the costs of private transportation. My exams approach and I have studied nothing, as I could not go to the university for nearly three months. I stay at home and help my mother with household chores.”
Another student known as M.S. from the Faculty of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering in Damascus University shared his experience with SOHR: “briefly, I am not able to continue my education in the M.E.E faculty, located on the road to Damascus international airport near al-Dwel’aa area. Public transportation is unavailable almost completely and the cost of a private taxi from my house in Berzeh neighbourhood to the university reaches 10,000 SYL. Recently, I work at a restaurant in Damascus and I have attended no sessions in my collage for nearly four months, hoping that the situation in Syria be better soon and the country emerges from the current stifling economic malaise which has greatly affected our future. A lot of my colleagues, from rural areas in particular, have dropped out because of the unaffordable cost of traveling to the university. They now work in shops and industrial workshops in their areas, so that they can get their living.”
As the crisis of poor transportation services hitting all areas under the control of the Syrian regime, a large number of students have been forced to drop out of school and university, especially those who live far away from their universities in the wake of acute fuel shortage. Moreover, the Syrian pound has tumbled against foreign currency with the successive crises hitting Syria, including fuel, bread, electricity and drinking water.