DUBAI // Motorists who live near the city's many construction sites are concerned about the danger and expense of tyres being punctured by nails and debris left scattered on roads and in car parks.
Replacing nail-damaged tyres can be expensive, but, more worryingly, damaged tyres can cause drivers to lose control of their vehicles, creating a potentially deadly situation. "It is disturbing for residents. My brother got a punctured tyre from a screw that was on the road and had to pay for it," said Salman Ahmed, a 31-year-old banker who lives in Barsha. "I check my tyres frequently, especially during the summer."
Another resident cautioned motorists who are not familiar with the area to be more attentive when driving and to slow down when nearing roundabouts.
"I have not had a punctured tyre, but a friend of mine got a flat tyre in this area. The road conditions are certainly a concern," said John Matthew, 35, of India.
After the unpleasant experience of getting a punctured tyre due to nails and screws on the road, Nabil Hamade started picking up the rusty objects during his regular morning jog last year.
"Dubai is relatively much better than many Middle Eastern countries, but could improve the areas around the construction sites," said Mr Hamade, of Lebanon. "When I was collecting nails, there was so much around. Sometimes I would collect 30 nails a day and could not take anymore because I would have filled up the pockets of my shorts."
Mr Hamade said the biggest source of such debris comes from the wooden fences around sites. Once they are removed, he said, workers push the nails out of the wood, and some of those nails end up on the roads or pavements.
"The community can make a lot of difference by organising weekend tours and walks. Every individual should be socially responsible - I call it Individual Social Responsibility."
He said that the government should encourage social programmes and enforce penalties for littering.
"They can do more inspection of sites," he said. "Where they can, they should hold construction permits if the site around is not being managed well."
Neither the Roads and Transport Authority nor Dubai Municipality was immediately available to comment on what protection there may be for motorists regarding flat tyres caused by nails at construction sites.
An employee who works at a laundry service in the area said he was forced to get a full set of tyres for the minibus he drives just a week ago not only because they had worn out, but also because of a nail.
"I travel a lot between Sharjah and Dubai because that is where our factory is," said 42-year-old Mohammad Inayat from Sri Lanka. "I got a puncture earlier this year due to a nail on the road."
Dirt roads in Barsha were another concern for residents who said they would welcome paved roads.
"Personally, I have not had a punctured tyre, but it could always happen on such roads," said Zuhair Ahmed, a Lebanese sales manager. "During the winter, the dirt roads around this area collect water and become muddy so, ideally, they should pave them."
Another resident, Essam Eid, agreed. "It is a concern I am sure for any driver to get a punctured tyre due to nails on the road ... a few months ago it looked like they were about to pave the dirt roads with asphalt, but they have not done so yet. We are still anticipating that they will do something," said Mr Eid.
Christian Villacorta, a supervisor of the technical department at Yellow Hat Japan, a car maintenance shop, stressed the importance of checking tyres both visually and by hand during the summer to ensure their safety. "It is very important to have good driving habits to ensure the safety and long life of tyres. Always observe posted speed limits, construction safety signs, avoid any objects and potholes on the road while observing your speed when you pass through a construction area to enable you to see objects on the road," he said.
According to Mr Villacorta, the cost of a tyre ranges from Dh250 up to Dh2,500, depending on the type of vehicle and tyre size.
"Check by eye if there are any kinds of small cracks, cuts and, if you can, take the tyre off in the garage ... remember sometimes the tyre looks good on front but can be worn out on the rear. Note any cuts, cracks or bulges on the tread or sidewalls, then visit a tyre shop or gas station for a check-up."