x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Sharjah strides into the future with a multibillion-dirham facelift

Motorways, roads, renovated bridges and a new market will ease traffic congestion and provide a welcome boost to local businesses in Sharjah.

The Sharjah bridge will be replaced as part of a multibillion-dirham transformation taking place in Sharjah. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
The Sharjah bridge will be replaced as part of a multibillion-dirham transformation taking place in Sharjah. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

SHARJAH // With several projects under way and the promise of new developments in the pipeline, Sharjah residents say they are proud of the multibillion-dirham transformation taking place in their emirate.

Mohammed Al Kaabi, an Emirati who owns two stalls in the Al Jubail fish market, said plans for the new market incorporating both the old fish bazaar and fruit and vegetable mart would help grow his business.

“I am already preparing to move into the new market once it opens and these new projects are also all very promising,” he said.

As part of the newest development plan – approved last week with a price tag of Dh1 billion – a new road will be constructed near the mega-produce market and 450 new parking spaces will be built in front of the market. The road is expected to alleviate pressure on the route between Abu Shagara Tunnel and Sharjah Bridge.

The Dh1bn development plan was approved Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, the Ruler of Sharjah, on April 30. It aims to make it easier to navigate the emirate’s congested roads.

Mr Al Kaabi said he used to be a  fisherman, but that his business had grown along with the country. “We are grateful for all these developments,” he said. “It makes us proud people.”

The new market and its nearby roadworks are only two of many projects the emirate’s Public Works department has undertaken recently.

Since last year, the department says about Dh4bn has been allocated to various projects. These include construction of more main and internal roads and the Dh500 million renovation of existing bridges. Another Dh1.7bn has been allocated for the construction of government buildings in the emirate.

“Dr Sheikh Sultan is committed to improving the lives of people in the emirate through these ambitious development projects,” said Sheikh Khalid bin Saqr Al Qasimi, head of the Sharjah Directorate of Public Works.

He said work on the Dh1bn roadworks plan would begin soon. The first phase involves turning one of the emirate’s most important traffic routes, King Abdul Aziz Street, into an eight-lane motorway that will run through the emirate’s industrial areas all the way to the sea.

Two bridges will be replaced – Sharjah Bridge on King Abdul Aziz Street and Al Khalidiya Bridge, which runs between Al Majaz and the new fish, fruit and vegetable market – and the two-lane Al Arouba Street, which intersects with King Abdul Aziz Street and provides access to several government departments, will become a four-lane motorway.

Business owners along Al Arouba Street do not yet know how the roadworks will affect them, but said they were happy and grateful for efforts to improve the emirate.

Saleh Ali, a grocery-store owner in Al Leyyah area, is among those pleased about the new developments for  the neighbourhood.

“This place may look like a village now, but it is getting a four-lane road, Alhamdulillah,” he said. “I am even willing to give up my shop if it is mentioned in the plan as part of the road, because the road is going to benefit all of us.”

Salah bin Butti, the director of the Planning and Surveying department at Public Works, said the Ruler of Sharjah had allocated Dh64?million for the compensation of businesses and building owners that might be affected by the roadworks.

The roadworks will also create a link between the corniche and Khalid Lagoon, two of the emirate’s most popular recreation areas.

Details of a new plan to develop Al Hamriya City will also be announced soon, Sheikh Khalid said. Early information suggests roads, markets, parks, museums and residential neighbourhoods will be all developed as part of the project.

ykakande@thenational.ae