x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

New Metro stop to open without access to Jafza's southern area

Pod expected to serve station is yet to be completed, drawing ire of potential users.

DUBAI // The Jebel Ali Metro station is set to open tomorrow but some of those in the Jebel Ali Free Zone (Jafza) will not benefit from it for the foreseeable future amid a lack of infrastructure.

There is no entrance or exit on the south side of the station as construction works unrelated to the Metro continue in the area, leaving tens of thousands who live and work in the southern zone of Jafza without a way into the station unless they make the lengthy trip to the north side by car or taxi.

“It’s a problem for us if there is no access to the Metro on our side of Sheikh Zayed Road,” said Osama abu Khader, a Jordanian who works as a sales and marketing director 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 that it is right now.”

His was not the only voice raised in anger. Savitha Ramesh, a receptionist at a company that stands 150 metres away from the station but is separated from it by a construction site, deep excavations and chain-link fencing, was also annoyed by the situation.

“This is absolutely ridiculous,” said Mrs Ramesh, who is from India. “It’s sad and outrageous. 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.”

Both Mr abu Khader and Mrs Ramesh can see the stop from their offices, a tantalising vision that is more like a mirage to them.

The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), which oversees Metro development, said plans to build the southern entrance and exit pod were part of a Limitless LLC construction project when the station was originally 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. The agency did not provide specifics.

Limitless, the development company that designed the Downtown Jebel Ali residential-commercial project that is situated nearby, 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 station is the closest to The Galleries – Downtown Jebel Ali development, Limitless’ flagship community. The Galleries, an eight-building mix of offices, apartments, retail and leisure facilities which opened more than two years ago, is also affected by the lack of access to the station.

ealghalib@thenational.ae