x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Buhairah Corniche roads: from bad to worse?

Sharjah residents fear a Dh100 million expansion project will make traffic and parking difficulties even worse in an already congested area.

SHARJAH // Residents of Buhairah Corniche fear a Dh100 million expansion project will make traffic and parking difficulties even worse in an already congested area. The development, which will link Sharjah's Al Majaz Park with the Khalid Lagoon, aims to add recreational and aesthetic features to the area, said Marwan Jassim al Serkal, the chief executive of Al Shurooq, the company supervising the project. Work on the first of two phases started earlier this month and is expected to be completed by November.

People, however, are concerned about added automotive strain in a vibrant area in the heart of the emirate. Moreover, the construction work comes with the holy month of Ramadan fast approaching. "Ramadan is always a month to finish projects, not start new ones," said Mohammed Ali, 40, an Iraqi resident of the area. "In the holy month people are often tired and slow at learning new road detours."

He was also concerned that the project could be delayed after it began, straining traffic and parking even further. The project also will involve the development of the section of the Corniche adjacent to the park. Road detours will be set up in coordination with the Sharjah Department of Public Works. That raised the red flag for Hessa Sultan, 30, a marketing executive working at one of the buildings close to the Corniche. She said she has used that part of the road for 10 years and wondered what the authorities had in mind for it.

"I like their new project. It is wonderful and will transform the area into a tourist hub, but I think old roads should be left intact," she said. Others questioned whether the project represented money well spent given the emirate's recent power supply problems. Sharjah has suffered three major power cuts in the past three months, leading to deaths and considerable commercial losses. "Dh100m is a lot of money for just expanding the luxurious park," said resident Sami Hassan, 35. "That money could help sort out the electricity problem in the emirate. That is much more pressing at the moment."

The park will be closed for the duration of the project as it needs to be linked directly to Khalid Lagoon, which will become the waterfront area of the park, Mr al Serkal said. That did not sit well with Fawaz Salah, 35, who was unhappy that the biggest park in the emirate would be out of bounds for residents and families for the entire month of Ramadan and many more months to come. "They are ruining our whole Ramadan and Eid festivities," Mr Salah said. "Where are we supposed to go now?"