x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Sleepless nights along Road 33

Call for police to regulate the heavy lorries that are travelling through Khalifa City B and Mohammed bin Zayed City.

Lorries continue to roll along Road 33 in Khalifa City B yesterday.
Lorries continue to roll along Road 33 in Khalifa City B yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Residents of Khalifa City B and Mohammed bin Zayed City are asking police to ban lorries from travelling through the districts' main thoroughfares at night. Despite a permit being required for lorries to use routes through the Khalifa Cities, as well as Mohammed bin Zayed City, Shawamekh and Bani Yas, many residents suspect drivers are ignoring the law and cutting through their neighbourhoods without a permit.

They say police rarely patrol Road 33, which runs through both areas. "If the police are giving permits to all the lorries that pass through here at all hours of the day and night, then they need to regulate the hours that lorries are allowed to drive through here," said Malik al Muawad, 52, who lives in Mohammed bin Zayed City. "I am sure if the police start spot-checking lorries in the area at night, they will find many don't have permits."

Mohammed Burhan, 34, a resident of Khalifa City B, said he knew first-hand that lorry drivers took shortcuts. "Last year when I moved to Khalifa City B, my furniture arrived on a lorry from Bahrain at midnight on a Thursday night. "The lorry driver did not want to get off the motorway and come into Khalifa City B because he didn't have a permit. I called the traffic police to find out when a permit could be issued and was told after the weekend."

Not wishing to incur additional charges for storing the lorry on the side of the motorway for two days, Mr Burhan called his landlord for advice. "The landlord spoke to the driver and convinced him that he could drive through Mohammed bin Zayed City to get to Khalifa City B. The driver wasn't too comfortable with the idea but decided to go ahead and drive the nine kilometres anyway. There were no police patrols on the road at the time and he made it to my home without a problem."

Though relieved at the time for having his furniture delivered that night, Mr Burhan said: "The lorries go back and forth all night long. The rumble from the engines and the sound of the brakes as they approach the roundabout at the end of my street is a constant nuisance and at times keeps me from sleeping or wakes me when I am asleep." According to traffic police, permits are issued only for lorries that have business in those areas.

"Permits are free and are issued for two to four months," one officer said. "Those seeking a permit must prove that they have business in that area proven by a work contract. Violators are fined Dh500 and their lorries are impounded for a month." There are no statistics on how many lorries break the law by passing through the area without a permit and there are no laws banning drivers from travelling at night in those areas.

Lorry drivers say they are aware of the problem, but argue that limiting when they can travel within the city affects not only their livelihoods but also prices of goods and further adds to congestion. "Having to sit parked on the side of the road waiting for the time we are allowed to move to come greatly affects our business," Bashar Halabi, 29, a Syrian lorry driver, said. "Having to park the lorries for so many hours costs us money which leads to increased charges to the company we are delivering the goods to. The company then ends up passing the increased expense on to consumers."

Col Hamad al Shamsi, head of the traffic and patrols division of the Abu Dhabi Police, said banning lorries from travelling through the areas at night altogether would be counterproductive. "That area is currently under development with several projects under way," he said. "Banning lorries from travelling through those areas would seriously affect the progress of those developments." ealghalib@thenational.ae