x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 December 2017

Jebel Ali Metro opens without southern access

RTA officials say a nearby construction project made it impossible to build one of the planned entrances and stress they are working on a fix

DUBAI // The good news is that Jebel Ali Metro station opens today. The bad news for anyone on the south side of Sheikh Zayed Road is that there's no way in or out.

Changes to a construction project nearby made it impossible to build the planned south-side entrance, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said yesterday.

The agency said it was working with the project's developer, Limitless, on ways to provide temporary access from the south side.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of people who live and work in the southern zone of the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) can reach the station only if they make the trip to the north side by car or taxi.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," said Savitha Ramesh, a receptionist at a company 150 metres away from the station but separated from it by a construction site, deep excavations and chain-link fencing.

"I was so pleased that it was being built and was really looking forward to its opening. I mean, the station is called the Jebel Ali Station, so it should serve all of Jebel Ali and not just the north. It's unbelievable that there is no access for us."

"It's a problem for us," said Osama abu Khader, a Jordanian who works as a sales and marketing director in an office near the new stop.

"I was hoping that with the opening of the station my company could be spared the expense of having to bus everyone to the office. This station is of no use to us the way it is right now."

The RTA, which oversees Metro development, said plans to build the southern entrance and exit pod had been part of the construction project when the station was designed.

"The RTA has been in close co-ordination with Jafza and Limitless as close stakeholders since the beginning of the design process of the Red Line," said Abdulredha Abu al Hassan, the director of the agency's planning and design department.

"The entrance/exit pod of the Jebel Ali station was designed to integrate with the Limitless development.

"However, due to changes in Limitless construction plans, the permanent entrance was not built. The RTA and Limitless/Jafza are looking into temporary access alternatives until the permanent arrangement is built up."

Limitless, which designed the Downtown Jebel Ali residential-commercial project near the Metro station, confirmed it was working with the RTA to find a solution.

"Limitless welcomes the opening of the RTA Metro station at Jebel Ali," the company said. "We continue to liaise with the RTA and Jafza to ensure that all parties find a solution to provide access to the terminal that serves Downtown Jebel Ali and Jafza South."

The Jebel Ali stop is the station closest to The Galleries - Downtown Jebel Ali, Limitless's flagship community, an eight-building mix of offices, apartments retail space and leisure facilities that opened more than two years ago and is also affected by the lack of access to the Metro station.

ealghalib@thenational.ae