Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Jasmine City Puts on Miles with Unparalleled Neglect,War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Stalls are seen on a street beside damaged buildings in the rebel held al-Shaar neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, February 10, 2016. REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail

Damascus- Six years into a devastating war, Damascus plunged into the darkness of neglect and waste accumulating in its slums and upper-class neighborhoods.

The city which once the sweet scent of jasmine was bursting all across its streets, now has a sickening reek of sewage poisoning its fresh air. And not stopping at that, the spread of homelessness and begging has taken toll over the once booming capital.

The streets of the center of the city have been neglected as the number of popular street kiosks has increased despite many attempts by authorities to remove them. Failing each time to gauge the influence of their owners, it shows that the street-trade counters are owned by highly ranking regime figures.

Degrading environmental sanitation, unregulated stall activity led to the accelerated cramming of medium-sized waste containers distributed.

Plastic wastes and perishables line up heavily on the sidewalks.

More so, it is near impossible to miss the hundreds of roadblocks and cement blocks set up by security forces and pro-regime militias on the streets. It is also common to see sidewalks in the old neighborhoods of Damascus without paving stones after them being dismantled to maintain electricity and sewage networks.

Damascus’ main river, Barada, had its fair share of distortion, turning into a stream of pungent odors; resembling more a sewerage and less a river.

The Syrian capital is likely the largest city of Syria, following the decline in population of Aleppo due to war.

It is also known in Syria as ‘ash-Sham’ and nicknamed as the City of Jasmine. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

Although Damascus was once also known as the city of light, being introduced to electricity in 1907, many of its residents and visitors today have negated that title, calling the city the ‘City of Darkness’ as power outage became a daily challenge.