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Baghdad\'s Newest Means of Transport

Ahmad al-Sa'dawi
Thirty-two year old Yasser Juma works as a porter in Jamileh market in Sadr City, one of the largest wholesale markets in Baghdad. Unlike many other porters who use trolleys to carry around goods and people Yasser…
6.03.2009  |  Baghdad

The motored bike which possesses a two metre-squared cabin to seat passengers or goods is becoming all the rage in Baghdad since its introduction into the country from Iran last year.

Juma has tried many professions and trades, and previously worked as porter with a small trolley in Shorja and Jamileh markets, but now he says his new sattuta makes him feel good about his job. The bike allows him to transport goods from inside and outside the market-place with ease and its use of fuel is economic compared to cars. Moreover, it requires little maintenance.

One year ago these three-wheeled bicycles were rare in Iraq, but they have suddenly started to become more widespread, especially in markets and Shiite religious sites where they are more easily able to navigate the security concrete walls that block cars from entering. Taxis stop next to these walls and the elderly and children use satuttas to enter the shrine.

For many young people like Juma, the small size of the sattuta and its cheap price and running cost, as well as its flexibility has created new employment opportunities.

The newly introduced bikes are imported from Iran at a price of less than U.S $1,500, a relatively low amount for a person wanting his own means of transport and a source of income at the same time.

The bikes came to prominence during last November’s heavy floods when they served as one of the few vehicles able to transport people around Baghdad. Flooding rain and sewage waters prevented cars from manoeuvring around much of the city but the satuttas continued to successfully navigate the treacherous terrain. Since then they are increasingly being seen on the streets of the capital city.

However, traffic police, as well as many citizens have started to complain about these bikes, saying that they are causing many accidents. Because the balance of the bikes is not easy to control when turning, it has become common for these bikes to cause accidents, especially now that some of the owners have started attaching trailers to the back of the bike to carry six extra people.

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