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Iraq rolls out new plan to reduce chronic Baghdad traffic

Successive Iraqi governments have tried but failed to address the problem of traffic in the capital. Sudani's plan involves building new bridges and overpasses.
This picture shows traffic in Baghdad's Tahrir Square with the iconic Freedom Monument, a 50-metre (165-foot) long bas relief that honours the 1950 revolution which overthrew Iraq's monarchy, on November 7, 2022.(Photo by AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP via Getty Images)

The Iraqi government announced on Thursday plans to reduce vehicle traffic in Baghdad, a chronic issue that has burdened the Iraqi capital for years. 

Much of Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani's plan involves building new bridges and overpasses, as well as developing several intersections in the city, according to a series of tweets from the Iraqi government. 

Sudani announced the plans during a ceremony to inaugurate a road connecting Dora in southern Baghdad to Yusufiya south of the city. 

Why it matters: Baghdad, with a population of more than seven million, has major traffic issues, and the problem is getting worse. AFP reported last June that Baghdad taxi drivers are getting less cross-town fares per day due to the worsening traffic situation. 

Baghdad resident Mustafa Al-Obaidi described the traffic situation as “terrible.” He told Al-Monitor, “I wake up early to avoid the traffic."

Obaidi said his approximately 16-kilometer morning commute is about 30 minutes at 7 a.m., but if he leaves at 8 a.m., the drive takes two hours. 

The Iraqi government has tried to solve Baghdad’s traffic woes before. The previous government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced a “ring road” project for the city last year, the official Iraqi News Agency reported at the time. The project has yet to come to fruition. 

“They always promise things and never deliver,” Obaidi said. “This one, they might.” 

Know more: In January, the government opened the Green Zone in Baghdad to traffic in order to reduce congestion, The Associated Press reported. Many foreign embassies are located in the Green Zone and the area is heavily fortified. 

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