x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Crane collapse causes rush-hour delays

A section of Sheikh Zayed Road closes to rush-hour traffic after a crane working on the metro station near Emirates Towers topples over.

A crane working on the Dubai Metro track, near Emirates Tower fell onto scaffolding causing parts of Sheikh Zayed Road to be closed.
A crane working on the Dubai Metro track, near Emirates Tower fell onto scaffolding causing parts of Sheikh Zayed Road to be closed.

DUBAI // A construction crane fell on Sheikh Zayed Road early yesterday, causing traffic jams for several kilometres during rush-hour as emergency services closed the road to city-bound traffic for seven hours. The vertical mast of the crane, being used in constructing the metro station at the Trade Centre, toppled on to a road-sign gantry over the Bur Dubai-bound side of the highway about 4.30am when traffic was sparse. The gantry prevented the long section of the crane from falling where it could have crushed cars or caused a pile-up. No one was injured. The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said it was investigating the accident to determine its cause and ensure that it did not happen again. A second crane was brought in by 8am to stabilise the one that had fallen and make sure it did not move further. Because the fall damaged the crane's mast, the RTA emergency team cut it into pieces rather than risk lifting it again. "The metal had bent and it would have been unsafe to pull the whole thing up at one time," an RTA spokesman said. "The part of the crane that fell had become partially detached from the rest of the machine." While the crane was being dismantled, engineers checked the gantry on to which it had fallen to make sure it was still safe for cars to pass under. Debris also had to be cleared from the road. The dual carriageway, which had been shut on the side bound for the Creek in the section from Defence Roundabout to the Trade Centre roundabout, was reopened shortly after midday. Abdul Majeed al Khaja, the head of the rail agency at the RTA, said all the cranes used on the Metro project were subject to international safety standards. "All the equipment used in the project is subject to tests by the safety units of the consultant and contractor before it is deployed on site, and all operators are certified to use this machinery," he said. Closing the road caused traffic jams as far back as the Mall of the Emirates. Traffic on Al Wasl Road and Al Khail Road was also extremely slow as commuters were diverted to the two roads at Al Safa interchange. Charbel Karam, 27, a graphic designer who works in Emirates Towers, said it took him three hours to drive from Umm Suqeim to his destination on Sheikh Zayed Road. "I went from Al Wasl Road to Al Khail Road, then down through Zaabeel, but it was on the Safa Park bridge that I got stuck for two hours," he said. "I wanted to detour the accident as much as possible, but the whole experience was really frustrating. I just kept getting angry; if I had found anywhere to U-turn I would've definitely gone home." He said people were still coming in to work at 1.30pm as a result of the accident. "Some people stayed at home until they heard the road was cleared." Tamer Ahmed, a production editor who also works on Sheikh Zayed Road, said it took him about four hours to get to his office from The Greens. "I left the house at 8.30am, and didn't reach the office until 12.30pm," he said. "It was really bad, cars were standing bumper-to-bumper." He said he had to postpone business meetings. Cars travelling in the opposite direction, towards Abu Dhabi, were also caught in heavy traffic as commuters slowed down to look at the fallen crane. "The RTA calls upon all road users to comply with the directions of traffic personnel and not to linger at the site of accidents, as the attitudes of some motorists contribute to aggravating traffic bottlenecks," Mr Khaja said. Other commuters decided to work from home for the day rather than take the risk of getting stuck on the roads. John Hughes, 35, who works near Garhoud, said he was on his way to work in the morning when he heard that the road was closed. "I turned around as soon as I could and headed back home," he said. "There was no way I was going to sit in hours of traffic when I could get work done at home." gmcclenaghan@thenational.ae