x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Traffic grinds to a halt in Dubai's Jumeirah Lakes Towers as school-run returns

Commuters took to Twitter and posted pictures of the gridlocked roads with warnings to stay away from JLT after a vehicle broke down and stalled traffic.

DUBAI // Disgruntled motorists gave up trying to reach offices at Jumeirah Lakes Towers today and residents stayed at home after traffic was brought to a standstill by a broken-down car.

Commuters who were unable to leave or enter the development for more than three hours posted pictures of the traffic jam on Twitter, with warnings to stay clear of JLT.

“I could see my office but couldn’t reach it, so after two and a half hours I took a U-turn and just went back home,” said Hassan bin Jamil, head of an IT company with an office in JLT.

Only three employees made it to work, Mr bin Jamil said.

“All the entry points into JLT were completely jammed. We have never seen it this bad,” he said. “We have had 30 to 40-minute delays in the mornings and evenings over the past few months.

“Businesses are suffering due to the traffic problems. They must take care of logistics quickly. We had customers scheduled to come in but could not.”

Others were stuck outside their offices until staff arrived to open them.

“We had to wait for more than half an hour because the person with the key could not reach the office in time,” said Sanober, who works with a jewellery company. “The traffic started clearing only after midday.”

Fed up with delays, angry drivers left their cars to move traffic cones to allow vehicles to make U-turns away from the congestion.

Frayed tempers and incessant honking were the most common responses to attempts by traffic workers to block entry into JLT and push cars back on to Sheikh Zayed Road.

Heated arguments often broke out between motorists and the workers.

The community master developer, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), last month announced there would be two road closures in early September.

The shutdown was part of work being carried out by the Roads and Transport Authority to connect JLT with the First Al Khail Road, previously called the Western Parallel Road network. DMCC said alternative exit routes would be provided.

In February, residents said the opening of a flyover to give commuters a quick link to Barsha through the Emirates Hills area had not eased congestion at roundabouts or exits.

The transport authority today asked for a day to respond to complaints but residents did not believe a car breaking down caused the jam.

“The roads are packed with cars with nowhere to move,” said Paula Krishi, who was on her way to work at a salon today when she saw a towing company trying to reach a stalled car.

“But this breakdown cannot have caused the traffic jam. Breakdowns are normal. This cannot be the reason for roads to get clogged.”

Another resident said travel times had doubled since schools opened last week.

“I take a good 20 minutes more to exit now than before the schools began because there are so many more buses stopping to pick up children and traffic just gets piled up,” said Raz Aria, who works in a factory in Jebel Ali and has lived in JLT for three years.

More than 50,000 people live and work in JLT’s 60 towers and residents are calling for a solution to chronic traffic woes.

In July the RTA assured residents that the final phase of a road project would be completed by the end of the year.

Describing the third phase of the parallel roads project, which cost Dh450 million, as one of its biggest projects, the authority said it would improve traffic flow.

rtalwar@thenational.ae

With additional reporting by Hareth Al Bustani