SHARJAH // As the winter months increase the likelihood of rain, authorities are stepping up efforts to prepare the emirate's infrastructure in a bid to prevent floods that have caused chaos in previous years.
Each year, drain networks struggle to cope with flash floods that often shut busy roads, causing traffic jams that hit local businesses and create safety issues for the public.
The last time the emirate suffered severe flooding was in 2010 when 36.2mm of rain fell in one night. Two people were killed when a power cable fell into pools of flood water and electrocuted them as they were wading through.
"This year it will all be different," said Sultan Al Mualla, the director general of Sharjah Municipality. "We have a contingency plan to prevent flooding on any road and to ensure a smooth flow in all areas."
Mr Al Mualla added the solid-waste department was cleaning and unblocking all gutters and drains in and around Sharjah City.
As part of the plan, officials will ensure all necessary departments are fully prepared and equipped to handle any downpours and the resulting flash flooding.
Priority will be given to Emirates Road, Al Dhaid Road and Sharjah Airport Road, which are often the worst hit. Other areas susceptible to flooding include Taraf, Al Rafaa and Tarafan.
The municipality hopes a large drainage pipeline installed on Maliha Road will take the majority of rain water away from the city's drainage system.
An Emergency Rain Committee, originally set up several years ago and made up of a number of government bodies including police and the directorate of public works, will coordinate prevention and clean-up work.
Salim bin Mohammed Al Owais, the head of the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture, last year told the Sharjah Consultative Council that the emirate needed up to Dh13 billion to upgrade the sewage and drainage network to help improve sanitation and flooding defences.
Police in the emirate also plan to increase the number of patrols to guide drivers away from any flood-hit areas, a spokesman said.
Motorists are urged to slow down while driving on wet roads and to always check the weather forecast before starting their journey.
If residents face any rain-related problems, they can call the municipality's hotline number, 993.