x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Crisis team tackles transport trouble

New management unit aims to make roads safer for all users while employing the latest technology to deal with emergencies.

A mobile crane working on the Dubai Metro track near Emirates Tower fell onto scaffolding on Sheikh Zayed Road on Nov 9.
A mobile crane working on the Dubai Metro track near Emirates Tower fell onto scaffolding on Sheikh Zayed Road on Nov 9.

DUBAI // A new transport crisis management team will keep the emirate's roads clear during emergencies as small as burst pipes or as serious as a fallen construction crane, its chief promised yesterday. The team, whose creation was announced by the Roads and Transport Authority on Sunday and which is to start functioning in mid-January, is tasked with co-ordinating the response of various departments to ensure there is as little disruption to traffic flow as possible when things go wrong on the roads. It marks the first time the roads emergency efforts of the civil defence, police, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), and RTA contractors, will be co-ordinated by one central body. The unit will have access to the city's closed-circuit television network and be able to monitor events as they unfold. It will also have its own generators, communications equipment and a media centre. "The call could come from anybody, from a member of the public through to the police. Usually people call the police in an emergency. "Immediately I am informed. I have received calls at 4.30am and 2.30am. I decide the category, depending on the situation at the site," said the unit's chief, Abdul al Khaja. "If there are no casualties or immediate danger to the public, if it is not at a peak time, these are all things which will help me to decide whether this is a crisis. But we would always go ahead to clear the incident straight away." He said there were three grades of traffic emergencies. Category one incidents are ones that have a minimum impact on traffic flow, which are easily controlled and do not require the assistance of any other authority to resolve. Category two incidents include those that could disturb flow at non-peak times for a few hours. "For example something has fallen from a crane onto the road or a pipe has burst," he said. "I need to clear the road but it's in the middle of the night and there is no traffic so we could divert the small amount of traffic to an alternate route and before traffic accumulates the problem is cleared. "It is an emergency but there are no casualties or injuries. I don't need to involve the authorities, only the police for a temporary road closure. We don't need an ambulance or electricians from Dewa." A category three incident, however, would require the team to assemble at the centre to manage the response. He cited as an example the recent collapse of a construction crane near Sheikh Zayed Road early last month. "Fortunately the crane did not come down onto the road, it was supported by one of the information signs which we have across the road. But we had to close Sheikh Zayed Road during peak hour because of the safety of people. "We had to communicate with the civil defence, the contractors, we had to close a major road until midday, so that is a crisis - something which impacted traffic in Dubai seriously. It is about taking the right action at the right time. Timely decision- making and action." loatway@thenational.ae