SHARJAH // Dozens of lorries were stranded for hours by one of the main roads into the city yesterday as a new rush-hour ban on heavy vehicles came into force. More than 10 officers with the Sharjah Police patrol unit had been in place along Al Dhaid road since 5.30am on the first day of the emirate's lorry curfew. By 7am more than a dozen lorries were lined up along the adjoining Madam road, waiting to move on to the Al Dhaid road when the daily ban was lifted at 9.30am.
Some lorries had been diverted on to alternative routes, police said. Several of the drivers said they had not been made aware of the new rules, which were announced over the weekend. The directive bars lorries from using the road between Intersection 7 and Al Dhaid city from 5.30am to 9.30am. The Al Dhaid district, in eastern Sharjah, is in the path of vehicles delivering stone from the mountains of Fujairah to Dubai. Both residents and the local authorities have repeatedly asked the Dubai Government to build a separate haulage road.
Waiting drivers expressed their unhappiness with the new arrangements. Abdul Wahid Gulam complained that he had been stuck from 6am to 9.30am at the outskirts of Al Dhaid, while Mubarak Hamid, an Egyptian, said the move was biased. "Before, we had 24 hours allowed to use the roads, and then we could be in traffic for more than six hours just to drive from Fujairah to Dubai. What would happen if we have a limited time?" he asked.
However, Basti Razaake, a local resident, welcomed the ban in the morning rush hour. "In the morning I have to be at my office in time, and several school buses are also moving," he said. Humaid al Katbi, the director of planning and survey at Al Dhaid Municipality, said the new timings were working well. However, he said they would still push for a separate road for heavy vehicles. In April, Ali Musabah al Tunaiji, the director of Al Dhaid Municipality, told The National that at least 4,000 heavy lorries used the In April, Ali Musabah al Tunaji, the director of Al Dhaid Municipality, told The National that at least 4,000 heavy lorries used the two-lane road every day.
"The real problem is not the small road congested with heavy trucks," he said, "but with the history of the road itself. "The road is an ittihad (union) road constructed by the federal Government, so this problem can only be solved at the federal level, not Sharjah alone. "We have made several proposals to the Ministry of Works to enlarge the road to have at least four lanes, so trucks can use two lanes and other cars use the other lanes."
Mr al Tunaiji said the Sharjah Government had set aside Dh90 million (US$25m) to build another road outside Al Dhaid that should be used by lorries alone. Construction was due to begin soon. Lorries were also banned throughout the day on the Sharjah ring road, although traffic there was flowing smoothly yesterday. A spokesman for the Department of Public Works in Sharjah said on Sunday that the restriction was due to the closure of part of the ring road in Ramlia district.
This was to allow completion of a link between Al Mirqab road, the ring and Waset roads, a project that would be finished next month. The ring road is part of the route connecting Dubai to Ajman via Sharjah, and also serves densely populated areas such as Al Ghafia, Al Sweihat, Samnan and Al Nuaimiya in Ajman. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org