x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Pedestrians call for action over ‘safety hazard’ of building sites blocking pavements

Construction sites in Al Nadha have encroached onto public footpaths to such an extent that people have no choice but to use the roads to get around.

SHARJAH // Pedestrians’ lives are being put at risk by building sites that block or fence off pavements, forcing people to walk on busy roads, residents claim.

Isabel Millan-Rumayor, who lives in Al Nahda neighbourhood, said work in the area had encroached on to public footpaths to such an extent that people had no choice but to use the roads.

She said this was particularly dangerous for the elderly and mothers with young children in strollers.

“If you walk along from King Faisal Road right past Spinneys supermarket and end on King Abdul Aziz Road next to Emirates NBD bank, the whole of the construction sites in the area don’t respect pedestrian paths,” Ms Millan-Rumayor said.

“It is such a safety hazard, they force people with young children or with pushchairs to walk on the road, while for people in wheelchairs it is impossible to get out of their homes.”

Ms Millan-Rumayor said authorities should step in given the emirate’s aspirations to be more wheelchair accessible and family friendly.

A number of beaches, parks and sports facilities for the physically handicapped and for families are due to open by 2015 as part of plans to make every building and public space in Sharjah accessible to all.

“I wonder if what these contractors are doing is legal and if they have a permit from the municipality,” Ms Millan-Rumayor said.

Hisham Ahmed, another Al Nahda resident, said building companies should announce the closure of paths as well as roads, so that residents knew in advance and could be given alternative routes.

“If any of the residents have children or are people with disabilities then they can avoid the roads and find alternatives where walking paths are not disturbed,” he said.

An engineer working at a building site in Al Nahda, who did not give his name, said inspectors from the municipality regularly visited the area but they had never raised an issue.

“The important thing is the fence not going into the road as that would disrupt traffic and even cause accidents,” he said.

Abdul Aziz Al Manzouri, assistant director general of technical affairs at the municipality, said inspectors regularly visited work sites to ensure that they did not go beyond an area granted when permission for construction was given.

“All disturbances regarding the closure of roads or part of roads or pathways should be made to the directorate of Public Works, and necessary precautions would be taken to rectify the situation,” he said.

“The municipality would reach out to the directorate of public works to jointly find a solution to this specific violation once any of the residents calls their toll free number to complain.”