Petah Tikva Kids Zigzag Through Building Sites on Way to School

Children cross access roads to underground parking lots and walk on dirt tracks with tin roofs protecting them from falling debris from adjacent construction sites.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

For more than a decade, the 10,000 people living in the New Em Hamoshavot neighborhood in northwest Petah Tikva have been living in a construction site. That's only 40 percent of the planned population. Residents say ongoing construction is making their lives an endless nightmare and exposing children to serious risks.

One example that gets mentioned is the route the children have to follow going from home to Natan Yonatan elementary school in the middle of the neighborhood. They must cross access roads to underground parking lots, from which cars emerge with the drivers having restricted vision. The children then walk on dirt tracks with tin roofs overhead to protect them from falling debris from adjacent construction sites. Finally, they have to bypass concrete and cement trucks that are often parked on the sidewalks. At school, too, the children are exposed to more than 10 cranes hovering above their heads in various sites.

Children making their way to school in Petah Tikva’s Em Hamoshavot neighborhood.Credit: Hadar Cohen

The accelerated pace of construction in the neighborhood has also caused a problem of community services not keeping up with the population. The shortage is felt especially in kindergartens and schools, so kindergarten children and junior high students may be in school in the same building.

Yaniv Haliba-Toledano, an activist in the neighborhood committee, says the junior high students suffer from the situation: "They have no laboratories, no facilities. Everything here is improvised. They promised us that everything will be solved next year, but a few weeks ago we were told that the situation might stay the same next year as well. And we know well that 'might' is probably 'definitely'." The neighborhood committee's chairman, Yair Ofer, says that problems will increase. "We have a young population here," he says. "Most of the couples have young children. Many kids are born here every year, and is seems that nobody thought about planning kindergartens, schools or other educational facilities."

A spokesperson for the Petah Tikva municipality said that all the cranes have received safety certificates from the engineering administration.

"No crane is causing any risk to any public building. The municipality said In the new schools will have well-equipped laboratories. "Next year, pending the budget approval from the Education Ministry, we will construct two junior high school buildings and one high school."

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