Tag Archives: uae

Inside a migrant worker camp

In a recent post I described my visit to a migrant worker camp located outside the city of Abu Dhabi.

Just to clarify, there are many names used for a place like this, ‘labour camp’, ‘labourer camp’, ‘ migrant worker accommodation’, etc, etc.  The camp I visited is not really a ‘labourer’ camp (i.e. construction labourers) as the fellows who live here are actually office workers but for now I will use the terms interchangeably.  (Btw, thanks to Eric Adler who pointed out after my last post that the term ’labour camp‘ had been, until recently, reserved for referring to penal camps where labour is forced upon its inmates as a form of penalty.  So this seems to be a bit of a misnomer (or not?).  Anyway, leave it to the Abu Dhabi Government to label highway signs with the phrase.

In any case, I enjoyed my experience last time so much that I asked my host if I could visit him and his friends / brothers / roommates again.  Although I found it a very humbling experience it was also fun and insightful and visiting the camp is kind of like entering a microcosm of India itself (or at least a certain part of that country).  The building that I am visiting houses 320 workers (number verified since my last visit), many of whom are from from the state of Tamil Nadu in India, and about half of which follow the Muslim religion.

To provide some context, the capital of Tamil Nadu state is Chennai (formerly known by its English name Madras which you may have heard of) which is located in the south of India close to the states of Kerala and Andhra Pradesh.  The per capita income of the residents of Tamil Nadu is approximately US$480 a year. The residents of this building are mainly employed as office assistants and they can make anywhere between 1200 and 2000 dirhams a month (between US$324 and US$540 a month!).  So a definite improvement.

But the cost of living is high in Abu Dhabi and it is clear that social issues are not being considered in the development of these places.  Meals are not provided for. Health insurance is not provided for. Desalinated water is provided (but no one in the UAE really drinks it because of the high sodium content / poor taste, so these fellows buy their own bottled water like the rest of us). In addition to their basic salary, only their living quarters and transportation to / from their workplace is provided. There are no perks, not even an allowance for a trip home to see their families once in a while.  What money do they have left over after providing for their expenses is sent home in the form of remittances to their families.  Not to mention  inflation in the prices of basic goods and currency fluctuations which have had a big impact on savings…

Tonight I will share an iftar meal with twelve of the residents in the confines of their 4.5m. x 3.5m. room.  I will describe this in a future update, the focus of this post is to describe a bit of what the living / sleeping conditions of the camp are like.

By way of background, Iftar is the name for the evening meal Muslims use to break the daily fast they observe during the month of Ramadan. From dawn until dusk, Muslims are not permitted (under Islamic custom) to eat or drink. Traditionally, the first thing that a Muslim will consume at the start of Iftar will be a date. As a contribution to the meal, I have decided to bring apple juice and date-filled chocolate-covered cookies. Can’t wait to bite into those. :) [Check back soon in this space for an update on my iftar experience]

In my last post I left off as my host was about to show me around his building and his room (his ‘accommodation’).  The decor of the building is very simple. The hallways are long and mostly unadorned, painted in an off-white colour. Here and there hangs a poster or a flyer, advertising goods for sale. There are a number of rooms, outside of which lie mats with shoes and sandals.  The few men who happen to be in the hall look at me with funny smiles, obviously wondering why I might be there.

We stop at a door on the right side, on which there is a large sign announcing ‘Ramadan Kareem!‘, which translates loosely as ‘Happy Ramadan!’. My host opens the door and invites me in, so I slip off my flip-flops and peer inside.  There are a few guys who look at me warily and feeling like an intruder I gingerly make my way in.  They smile and greet me and immediately invite me to sit down, while offering me tea and biscuits.

To say the room is small is an understatement. It’s about 4.5m x 3.5m in area. Metal-framed bunk beds ring the room, providing sleeping space for up to 12 people (some rooms have up to 16). Those who are lucky enough to have a bottom bunk have extra storage space underneath but it wouldn’t surprise me to know that they share it with their roommates.  On top of each of the bunks is a sheet of plywood, wrapped in duct tape on the ends to prevent splinters I assume.  There are no mattresses.  Each of the beds has a pillow and a blanket, and on most of them personal effects are piled high, competing for space with the person who sleeps there. Frankly, I find the atmosphere cozy, and it reminds me of the dorms I stayed in at summer camp as a child.

As I absorb the contents of the room, it dawns on me that probably all of the personal possessions of these men are actually located in the small area that is their personal sleeping / bed space (you can see photos by clicking the links below to Picasa).

Here is an ad posted by someone looking for a bed space in downtown Abu Dhabi (this would be for a space in a typical 2 or 3 bedroom apartment which is being shared by 10 or more people). 
20090913-abudhabi-bedspace

There is a window in the room but it is covered with a plastic tarp out of which juts one of the air-conditioning units I mentioned previously.  I also see lots of power bars connecting to various electrical appliances in the room.  For starters, the a/c unit, a small refrigerator (in which the guys keep bottles of water, juices, milk and other things) and a kettle (for making tea/coffee).  On some of the beds there are computers or televisions, each of which is hooked up to Internet or satellite tv (pirated connections) for a small fee which they split among each other. It helps them stay connected to their families, and they use skype regularly, even as I sit there in the room.  There are wires everywhere.  There is no fire extinguisher.

During the evening I take a bathroom break, and one of the fellows shows me to their lavatories.  Bathrooms are nothing to boast about – a hole in the ground over which you squat and do your business.  The floor is filthy.  The men acknowledge that it is not very pleasant.  They say that someone cleans the bathrooms once a day – I decide not to ask if they need to pay for the cleaning service or if the building management takes care of that.

Have a look at some of my first photos of the camp and leave your comments (you need a userid) on PICASA:

Migrant Worker Camps in Abu DhabiMigrant Worker Camps in Abu Dhabi

Despite all of this, I am getting the feeling that there are camps out there where the workers are much worse off than the fellows who live in this one. Here’s an anecdote worth sharing: a camp for construction labourers is currently being developed in a nearby area.  The size of the lot for the development is 700 metres by 700 metres.  Low-rise buildings to accommodate over 75,000 workers are contemplated in the plans, which also call for an electrified fence to encircle the lot….   This comes from a reliable source.

Keep checking back on this space… I will continue to write more about my experiences visiting these camps. There is so much still for me to learn about this topic, so much to write, and I want to share as much of it as I can.

First impressions of a labour camp

Yesterday I visited a migrant worker “camp” for the first time. Yes – the type of camp that has made the United Arab Emirates (and other Gulf countries) so infamous in recent years for the alleged rights violations of the men who live there.  I won’t comment on these as I am not in a position to do so – not being an expert on human orlabour rights.  In this post I will try to describe my initial thoughts just prior to entering the camp.  In posts to come over the coming days I will try to follow up to describe their living conditions, the services they have access to and the general atmosphere among the residents.

I leave my home in the early evening hours – the camp I am going to visit is located 30 minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi, in the dusty industrial city of Musaffah. After driving for 30 minutes along the the six-lane (in each direction) Abu Dhabi – Dubai highway, my taxi turns off onto the two lane (in each direction) Musaffah road. Within a few minutes we begin to pass row after row of dilapidated low-rise rectangular buildings with triangular roofs and strange square blocks protruding from the sides.  At first, from the blur of a passing car, they look like industrial warehouses. But as the taxi slows down for an approaching roundabout I look closer and I can see school buses parked outside and recognize the protruding blocks as air-conditioning units. Now that we have slowed to a brief stop, I can see groups of men sitting around smoking cigarettes or strolling around shirtless with lungis wrapped around their waists.  Heading around the roundabout, we drive onto a dirt road and pull up next to one of these buildings.  In the common area where the men are lounging, there are satellite dishes mounted in the ground and clotheslines are strung up, flapping in the hot summer wind.  The taxi driver announces that we have arrived.  Before I’ve even realized it, I am among the labourer camps where thousands of men are housed for years whilst they support the multi-billion dollar developments that are giving the UAE its global claim to fame.

Welcome to Abu Dhabi, the richest city in the world.  This is the closest thing it has to a slum.

The building I am visiting houses five hundred Indian men mostly from the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. As I get out of the shiny silver taxi, the men stare at me; my impression is they are wondering what a gora (Hindi for white man) is doing this part of town. I am not afraid though. I feel that it is not an indignant look, just a curious one. Later on I find out that I am the first gora ever to have visited this particular camp or accommodation complex. Indians are among the friendliest people I have ever met, which is part of why I wanted to visit this place so badly. It is a chance to be among the people who are building this place, people who may also be among the loneliest in the country.

As diverse as the UAE is, sadly, it is also an isolated place, where people seem to fall into social groups often based on their economic position and / or ethnicity. The transient nature of the community (over 80% of the population is expatriate) makes it difficult to connect with people living here.  Much of the expatriate population hails from labour-exporting countries such as the Philippines, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Arab World as well, for instance Syria, Egypt or Jordan. I like to compare it to the biblical story of the Tower of Babel except that in the UAE they are somehow able to get things built despite the cultural and linguistic differences.

My host is one of the residents of this building and he excitedly greets me with a smile and a warm handshake. “Hello sir, how are you sir?” he begins, and then goes on to admonish me for taking an ‘expensive’ silver taxi instead of a cheaper ‘gold and white’.  Doing so means I may have paid up to 3-4 US$ more for my journey (approximately 25% higher than it would have been).

And so began my four-hour visit to this camp on a warm (~40 degrees Celsius) Saturday evening, during which I learned a bit about their lifestyle, their spending habits, their gripes, their culture, their needs, etc.  That’s it for tonight – I’ll come back with more to write about in the coming days.  Keep an eye on this space.

For the moment I don’t have any photos to share of the area outside of the buildings – I was a bit cautious in this respect as I didn’t want to offend my hosts.

Reflections on a moment in Abu Dhabi

Today, during my lunch break from work, I decided to go jogging on the Abu Dhabi Corniche and I noticed something strange. Not that that’s unusual, since it’s Abu Dhabi after all.  ;-)

I saw a couple on one of the benches on the waterfront. An Indian man was sitting down. Stretched out across his lap and almost kissing him was a woman. She seemed to be of either Indian or Filipina nationality – I couldn’t tell. I found it odd that they were being so “close” in public.

Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Abu Dhabi, which has quite a conservative culture. There have been cases of jail time for such things. I have heard of women being spit upon for baring too much skin. So I wondered to myself if they would still be doing that when I came back on the return. Surely they wouldn’t risk doing it for a long period of time as someone (maybe a local) might draw attention to them or rebuke them. But on the way back she was still on his lap. I realized what had struck me as strange the first time around. The man appeared to be crying.

Suddenly, I saw the situation from a different perspective. I saw sadness, grief in his face as if he was totally inconsolable. I wondered to myself. I wondered if maybe she was sick or something terrible had happened to her like maybe she was dying of some terminal illness. It occurred to me that maybe he was taking care of her in her last days or that maybe they just couldnt be together due to religious or cultural reasons. Or maybe he or she would be leaving for an arranged marriage for example and they were being prevented from being together. I wondered if they were beyond caring what people thought of them being so close in public like that, and and beyond caring that someone might report them yet. I thought of different views in different societies and wondered had they both been born in a different country, would their problem even exist for them? It just made me realise that there are so many different perspectives to a situation and so many different world views. How to understand them all? How to reconcile them all, if even possible? These reflections and ponderings seem to be happening more and more frequently to me and especially since I moved to the UAE two and a half years ago. Something about this place has caused so much change in me, I don’t know how to explain it, but I feel more aware of what is happening in people, processes and places around me, more reflective, more pensive.

You may wish to read a post on a related topic – sounds of abu dhabi, posted on 10 June, 2008.

First Ethiopian experiences

Hello folks, I’m writing to you from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia where I’ve decided to spend the UAE National Day / Eid-al-Adha (Festival of the Sacrifice of the lamb) holidays with my girlfriend.

Due to a fortunate coincidence of the UAE’s 37th birthday on the 2nd of December and the celebration of the end of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, I ended up with six public holidays with only one working day in between (tomorrow – Thursday). I’ve taken it off and we have booked last minute tickets to Addis Ababa from Dubai with Ethiopian Airlines (total cost for two round-trip tickets US$958, plus the taxi transport to and from Dubai, which is approximately US$130). Tickets were last-minute because the holiday schedule was only announced by the government earlier this week (Monday), 24 hours ahead of time. This generally happens around holidays which follow the Islamic calendar and so are determined by the lunary cycle (such as Eid-al-Adha).

My first impressions of Ethiopia began in the Dubai Int’l Airport before we even boarded the plane. As we approached the check-in counter, we groaned on noticing a long line of colourfully dressed people with half a dozen suitcases, boxes and bags each. After waiting a couple of minutes I noticed that several counters were staffed by Ethiopian Airlines crew but only one had a long line in front of it. We moved lines and were served in less than 15 minutes. And as soon as we changed lines so did everyone else. Strange…. What an arbitrage opportunity!

I happened to notice in line that many passengers-to-be had huge boxes to check in. I couldn’t figure what all of the luggage might be (gifts to take home to the family?) until a fellow sidled up to us in line and slyly slipped around in front as if to take his turn ahead of us. Cornelia (my girlfriend) promptly informed him that we were ahead of him following which he said he’d just been making sure?? He told us that he’d traveled to Dubai on business and was bringing back boxes of mobile phones for resale in Lagos, Nigeria! Who needs free trade agreements huh? I wonder what the markup on the phones has to be to cover his plane ticket, hotel and food in Dubai and the excess baggage charges!!?!?

On boarding the plane, it was fairly orderly, until a gentleman in a pimpin’ shiny light blue suit and rose-coloured sunglasses began shouting at the cabin crew when they informed him he wouldn’t be able to travel to Ethiopia without a visa in place (I believe he was a Congolese national). He made sure that everyone on the plane knew he had a diplomatic passport, while holding up the take-off and insisting that he didn’t deserve to have to spend the night in the Dubai Airport while waiting for a visa…. they finally “off-loaded” him (air travel industry term) and we set off for Ethiopia only 30 min behind schedule. I was surprised though, in all my travels, I have never seen someone become so irate on a plane.

Another surprise was the rap music playing during boarding and during takeoff and ascent. Snoop Doggy Dogg baby…. hahaha. Cornelia and I felt like getting up and dancing in the aisles. :) Very amusing.

We’re now on the ground in Addis Ababa, staying in an ant-infested but otherwise nice and cozy hotel known as the Edsonatra Lodge and Catering Services. THe internet is bloody slow and there is a bar next door playing very loud music (just before some latin style tunes, I can never seem to get away from the latin influence :)) but otherwise we are very happy. We are paying 350 Birr a night (about US$35). The staff here are extremely friendly and except for the ants (and the fact that there is no bathroom en-suite, we are ok with it).

On our way in from the airport, I remarked that in comparison to Rwanda, it felt more secure, safer, somewhat more sedate, despite being a country with a population 10x larger, and a much larger capital city than Rwanda’s Kigali. My impression in those first 10 or 15 minutes was that Rwanda has such a horrible past that it conjures up images in one’s mind and causes one to assume that the people who have suffered such depravity must also be somehow affected in a similar way (though that isn’t the case at all – Rwanda is a fantastic country and has affected me deeply in a way somewhat like Colombia – it really touched my heart). In comparison it is Ethiopia’s reputation for poverty, starvation and disease that dominates my mindset here, not violent crime or war (though it does sit in a rather precarious geopolitical position with Somalia and break-away province Eritrea as its neighbours and had a 30-year civil war).

Other observations is that there appears to be a large Italian influence here, most immediately visible in the form of Italian restaurants and names all over town. But did you know that Ethiopia is the only African state never to have been colonised? There were periods of Italian influence in the late 1890s and 1930s and attempts by Italy to take sovereign control over the country but were never fully successful (there was a brief occupation by Italy in late 1930’s but that’s it).

OK, thats it for tonight. We’re here until the 9th of December. More updates to come.

oil wealth

This article exaggerates a bit but it does capture the essence of what it feels like to live here.

Extravagance part of life in the really rich, oil-soaked emirate
THE STAR
July 21, 2008
Oakland Ross
Middle East Bureau

Source: http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/464057

ABU DHABI–In the imponderable world of unthinkable wealth, it is easy to dream big.

But it doesn’t hurt, now and then, to think small.

Saeed Abdel Ghaffar Khouri was doing a bit of both a few weeks back, when he shelled out 52.2 million dirhams, or $14.3 million – for a licence plate.

Granted, it’s no ordinary plate.

It bears only the single digit “1″ where normal plates carry five numerals, so Khouri’s proud acquisition – purchased at a charity auction – undoubtedly helps its owner stand out from the crowd.

But still – $14.3 million?

It might seem like a lot of cash but this is Abu Dhabi, where 420,000 indigenous inhabitants share in the revenue from 2.5 million barrels of oil a day. They mostly take such transactions in stride.

“They’re astoundingly rich,” said a Western diplomat. “They have to be among the richest people in the world, without a doubt.”

He was referring to the elite, but even the less affluent of this city’s native-born residents are not exactly what you would call strapped.

“A poor Emirati?” said a local journalist, using the term for a citizen of the United Arab Emirates, of which Abu Dhabi is the capital. “I have yet to see one.”

Money talks in every corner of the globe, but nowhere does it speak more volubly than here. With roughly $1 trillion invested abroad – and this was before the price of petroleum began gushing skyward nearly a year ago – this emirate was already the richest place on earth.

People in other countries have probably heard of Dubai, another emirate located a short drive to the northeast, and they rightly associate it with immense wealth.

But Dubai is no Abu Dhabi.

Dubai never had much oil, and what it did have is mostly gone.

Meanwhile, the desert around Abu Dhabi oozes petroleum – enough to last more than 100 years at the current rate of extraction – and this city is poised to eclipse Dubai as possibly the most sumptuous city in the world.

“The oil boom has opened the doors to things that would not have happened otherwise,” said Hassan Fattah, deputy editor of The National, an English-language newspaper here. “Do you realize how far this place has moved forward?”

A recent census found that about 79,000 Emiratis qualify as millionaires, or roughly one person in 10.

Most of these well-heeled folk dwell in Abu Dhabi, and the most prosperous among them are colossally rich.

They are apt to make their homes in the Al Bateen district, a giant checkerboard of massive properties, each occupying several square kilometres of almost priceless urban real estate, each surrounded by ornate walls and elaborate gates.

Among the grandest is the estate belonging to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan, president of the United Arab Emirates and emir of Abu Dhabi.

Glimpsed from outside, the president’s manse could be described as a palace but in fact more closely resembles a large airport terminal.
Five decades ago, Abu Dhabi was still a remote desert outpost populated by a few thousand Bedouin.

The only way to get from Abu Dhabi to Dubai was by camel train across the sand. There was no road.

Oil has changed everything.

“The Bedouin who 50 years ago was walking in the desert?” said a local journalist. “Today, he’s driving a Lexus and wearing a Rolex.”

At a minimum.

Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royces are a common sight along the palm-bordered streets of Abu Dhabi.

Wealthy residents also like to buy thoroughbred horses, polo ponies, racing camels, and falcons for hunting – an Emirati passion. Air carrier Etihad Airways lets passengers carry falcons as cabin luggage.

“The only rule for wealth management here is, if you’ve got money, spend it,” said the local journalist. “The money doesn’t just stay in the United Arab Emirates. It goes overseas to chalets in Switzerland, homes in the United States.”

Even Abu Dhabians who aren’t downright rich do fine, thanks to a government that provides free education right through university, awards houses gratis to Abu Dhabi citizens when they marry, and dispenses long-term, interest-free loans to its people. It also pays very high salaries for civil service jobs, about 90 per cent of which are filled by native-born Abu Dhabians.

“This is the ultimate welfare state,” said the local journalist.

Meanwhile, the territory’s labour supply is mostly imported – from construction workers to hotel staff to office workers – and outnumbers natives by more than two to one. Many imported workers dwell in crowded labour camps but many foreigners live very well thanks, in part, to an absence of taxes.

“The lifestyle is very good,” said Pam Simmons, one of about 12,000 Canadians who now call the Emirates home. “You think you’ll save money five times over, but no. Your lifestyle changes.”

Housing, however, can be extremely costly and is getting dearer by the day, as soaring oil revenues fuel inflation.

“Prices have gone up tremendously,” said Tamara Trinka, an Abu Dhabi real estate agent originally from the United States. “In some places, they have doubled in the last year. But it’s still a great place to raise a family.”

Or a fortune.

sounds of abu dhabi

I’m off sick from work today (and probably tomorrow) with gastroenteritis (as diagnosed by a UAE based expat doctor, and given the track record of medical professionals here I’d say that’s as likely to be correct as telling me I’m pregnant).

But seriously I’ve been placed on a liquid-only diet for 24 to 36 hours and given my current feeble state and lack of any of solid foods I’ve pretty much been lying in bed all day.

And so I have become more aware of the sounds of the city I live in…

from my 17th floor flat in downtown Abu Dhabi, the cacophony of sounds tells part of the story of a modern day tower of Babel where various cultures and behaviours clash with each other.   Mysteries of the Middle East.

Car Horns
Since I live in a building located at the corner of a major intersection, traffic is a big part of the soundtrack. And the car horn is used very liberally, probably a close second to the gas pedal in terms of frequency of use…!!   Imagine the sounds of multiple car horns, going on up to 5 to 10 seconds, echoing throughout the city. Now imagine this happening all hours of the day.  It can really drive you up a wall, especially when you come from a country where unnecessary honking of your horn constitutes noise pollution and would probably land you a traffic fine / ticket.

I think that this practice stems from the backgrounds of the majority of Abu Dhabi’s population (countries such as India, Pakistan, Egypt and Syria).  For instance, in a country like India, on the streets of Bombay, the sounds of the car horns can drown out a conversation… you can hear it in the background on a mobile phone conversation and know immediately that that person is outside somewhere.  But the horn seems to have a practical use over there.  Truck drivers, as an example, often won’t have a side-view mirror with which to look out for traffic coming up from the side.  So a message will usually be printed on the rear of the truck saying “HORN OK PLEASE” indicating there is nothing offensive about beeping incessantly to let the driver know you’re approaching from behind… in truth, the horn is used in a way that seems to make traffic flow more efficiently.  Every square metre of the road will be used and drivers will be intimately familiar with every corner, curve, dent or sceatch on their vehicle.  They will use their horn to nudge other drivers over and fit into into that cardboard box sized space in between two lanes on a two lane road… (one reason why I think that many cars don’t have side-view mirrors).   So this is one mystery that I think have somewhat solved…. :)

Call to Prayer (Adhan)
In my opinion, one of the most delightful sounds of the Muslim world is the five-times daily call to prayer (aka Adhan).  It is a pre-recorded chanting that lasts for 10-15 minutes and rings out from the minarets of the scores of mosques scattered around the city of Abu Dhabi.  I think that all mosques use more or less a standard recording…. While I have heard some expats complain that it wakes them up with the first call just before sunrise, I find that it is actually quite soothing and enchanting.  It’s also a good way of knowing when all of the Muslim taxi drivers (which is most of them) have stopped to pray (and therefore not a good time to try and hail a cab).

The mystery for me here is why Western expats come to a Muslim country and complain about things like this.  Deal with it or go home!

Sirens of Emergency Vehicles
Traffic congestion is a major problem in all parts of downtown Abu Dhabi.  There are four reasons for this problem 1) traffic lights are not calibrated so you will hit every red light unless you drive at 160km/h and 2) this is a city built for 600,000 people which now has close to 1.2 million and 3) there is a shortage of parking here so people are forced to park in the roadways and ‘invent’ their own spots which disrupt the flow of traffic and 4) there is no public transit system in this city so everyone is forced to either buy a car or take a taxi (of which there is a critical shortage).

Now imagine the dilemma faced by an emergency vehicle trying to reach the scene of a car accident to treat the injured.  As in any other city around the world, ambulances, firetrucks and police cars will use their sirens to make their way through the city and to warn vehicles ahead that they should make way.  Not here.  In a country like Canada you might see cars pulling up onto the sidewalk, driving through a red light or going out of their way to avoid blocking the vehicle.  In Abu Dhabi cars stops an intersection with an ambulance behind them with its lights flashing and sirens blaring will typically stay still until the traffic light turns green.  The only thing that I can attribute this to is they are afraid that the cops won’t accept the excuse that they are intended to make way for the emergency vehicle. To add insult to injury, traffic will continue to flow even if the emergency vehicles are within sight of those moving across the intersection.  You’d also expect that on an open road that the flow of traffic would yield or pull over and make way.  Forget it.  They’ll keep driving, barely even noticing that an ambulance is trying to pass them.

My theory on this mystery is this has simply to do with lack of enforcement by the road authorities (i.e. not ticketing drivers who do not move aside) and lack of education (not teaching would-be drivers in driving school that this is road etiquette).

…all part of the fun of living here…