x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

The executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority said roadworks will be completed in Jumeirah Lakes Towers within eight weeks.

Residents of the Jumeirah Lakes Towers are considering moving out after a particularly bad week of traffic congestion, but the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre which runs JLT urges patience. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Residents of the Jumeirah Lakes Towers are considering moving out after a particularly bad week of traffic congestion, but the executive chairman of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre which runs JLT urges patience. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Roadworks that have been causing massive traffic jams in Jumeirah Lakes Towers will take another eight weeks to complete.

Jams have been a constant nightmare to JLT’s 30,000 residents for the past three years, but last week was such a particularly bad week that many are considering moving to other areas of the city.

However, the executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre Authority (DMCC), which controls JLT, urged people to be patient as the extensive roadworks enter their final stages.

“The traffic we have right now represents 75,000 people working and living in JLT,” Ahmed bin Sulayem said.

“And we are lucky that, at this stage, it is going to take six to eight weeks – likely eight weeks – for the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to completely finish the roads.”

The ongoing Dh450 million road development covers seven main bridges that will provide free-flowing access to and from JLT and the construction of a road linking Sheikh Zayed Road with Al Khail and Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed roads.

Mr bin Sulayem said the key to avoiding traffic is timing and being aware of when works will be in place.

“Just like any developed community, and this is partially residential but mostly a business community, you time things,” he said.

“There are morning rush hours and evening rush hours, that’s in every successful city around the world.

“I expect RTA to be coming up with more creative ways of mitigating the traffic. But I think it has more to do with awareness of where the roads are, which is why we are sending out press releases about the road works and then sending out reminders – because what people dislike more than the traffic itself is being shocked by it and not being notified.”

Mr bin Sulayem also praised JLT’s one-way system. He said: “Given my background and experience living in the US, realising communities when they get mature, the traffic increases and then they switch the roads into one way.

“That’s a variation within four or five years; it’s a cost and a disruption. I wanted to be ahead of that curve, which is why the roads are all one way in JLT. I was not going to deal with a two-way and signal lights. The roads should be smooth and one way.”

He added that the RTA could have changed the one-way system if it wanted “but they didn’t change anything because, as it turns out, one-way is very good given the traffic”.

“What they are working on is exits and entrances, they do not want a scenario where the traffic is like the Trade Centre area. They want to avoid these challenges while the community is still new and it has always been said that this area has great infrastructure.”

However, Mr bin Sulayem’s reassurances did not convince everyone.

“Another eight weeks? Come on. I thought it would be sooner,” said 29-year-old events coordinator Ayesha Fernandez, who works in Cluster T.

More exits are needed in JLT to solve the traffic issue, she said. “Give us more options and other ways out. It doesn’t make sense not to have more of them.”

Ms Fernandez said it can take her three hours to get to her home in Al Qusais.

“It takes me an hour to get out of JLT, another hour on Sheikh Zayed Road and then an hour on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road.”

Traffic is a side effect of success, Mr bin Sulayem said.

“The huge and fast growth that JLT has had with it now representing over 7,300 companies, something has got to give, you have to see a sign that reflects that and traffic is one of those signs,” he said.

“The buildings are getting full. It is a sign of success and RTA needs to work with the community.”

Mr bin Sulayem added that he prides himself on being accessible to anyone who lives and works in JLT.

“I respond to every tweet from people within the community. We listen to what makes sense, at the end of the day. JLT is a unique community that way,” he said.

malkhan@thenational.ae