Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 November 2019

Reckless drivers put Abu Dhabi community on edge

Al Ghadeer residents call for an enforcement of speed limits, more street lights and reflectors at pedestrian crossings

Jon Edwards (white t-shirt) crosses the road in Al Ghadeer. Pawan Singh / The National 
Jon Edwards (white t-shirt) crosses the road in Al Ghadeer. Pawan Singh / The National 

Residents of a popular community on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi have expressed concern over reckless drivers who they say are putting pedestrians in danger.

Tenants of Al Ghadeer, a compound near the Dubai border, are calling for more street lights, better visibility at roundabouts and an enforcement of speed limits after numerous pets were struck by cars.

About 115 of the community’s 1,000 residents signed a petition that asks the management company, Provis, to address the issues.

In the letter, they detailed a list of incidents involving speeding cars.

We are aware of the situation and are taking it seriously

Aldar Properties spokesman

“People drive through the community like they are speeding through a motorway,” said Jon Edwards, who has lived in the community for three years.

Al Ghadeer is a popular location because it is roughly equidistant from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Many residents chose to live there believing it offered a tranquil alternative to life in the city.

The reality turned out to be somewhat different, irate residents said.

Mr Edwards, 50, a paramedic from the UK, said the problem stemmed from there being only one road through the community, off the main highway, which led to a high volume of traffic.

He said another major issue was that people were not allowed to park on the road itself, forcing them to park on pavements This has left pedestrians with no option but to walk on to the busy roads.

Mr Edwards said while there were several pedestrian crossings, motorists often did not stop to allow them to pass and frequently flouted the 60 kilometre-per-hour speed limit.

Jon Edwards (white t-shirt) at Al Ghadeer residential area in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National 
Jon Edwards (white t-shirt) at Al Ghadeer residential area in Abu Dhabi. Pawan Singh / The National 

“Drivers are coming off the main road at such high speeds — they are driving like demons,” he said.

“They have a mentality that traffic has the right of way over pedestrians, when you would expect it to be the other way around.

“You need to have your wits about you all the time.”

Another resident said she was afraid to leave her home because it meant she would have to walk along the road to get anywhere.

“People can’t walk on the footpaths because of the cars that are always parked there,” said Tania Mari Greef, 40, a mother of one from South Africa.

“We’re always looking over our shoulders or living in fear because of the speeding cars.

Drivers are coming off the main road at such high speeds — they are driving like demons

Jon Edwards, Al Ghadeer resident

“They don’t even bother to slow down at pedestrian crossings,” she said.

Ms Greef, who has lived in Al Ghadeer for three years, said in most cases, the speeding drivers were residents of the community returning home.

“I don’t know if it’s because they are frustrated at being stuck in traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road and are trying to make up for lost time,” she said.

“There been many occasions when accidents have only been missed by millimetres.

“I am afraid to go outside with my seven-year-old son; I am scared to even let him walk 50 metres to the local play area.”

Agata Elabayomi, 28, from Poland, said there were several instances when family pets had been run over and killed and the drivers had not even stopped.

“These drivers are not thinking of anyone but themselves,” said Ms Elabayomi , who has lived in Al Ghadeer for the past five years.

A spokesman for Provis said the company was aware of the issue but said the decision to ban cars from parking on the roads was not theirs.

“It is against the rules of traffic authorities to park on the sides, as doing so makes vehicular movement difficult and dangerous,” the spokesman said.

“That means vehicle owners are not allowed to park on roads and are encouraged to park in their designated parking lots.

“Provis does not encourage residents to park on walkways or pavements. There is also ample visitor parking available in the community.”

There were many traffic signs to inform motorists of the speed limits and the need to drive safely in the community, he said.

The spokesman said Provis was ultimately not responsible for road safety.

He did say, however, that lighting on the main roundabout had been enhanced and reflectors would be installed at pedestrian crossings along the main roads of the community to further increase safety.

“While it’s a gated community in nature, the road network is not totally closed off. The safety of the main roads and control remains with the authorities,” he said.

“Community management looks after the cleaning and the maintenance of the roads, with no authority to issue fines or penalise speeding drivers.

“Yet, security remains vigilant and issues ... warnings within their control to such offenders.”

A spokesman for Aldar Properties, the company that built Al Ghadeer, said: "We are aware of the situation and are taking it seriously."

Abu Dhabi Municipality for was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of publication.

Last year, Aldar announced plans for a Dh10 billion extension of the Al Ghadeer project, consisting of 14,408 units. The first phase of 611 homes will be completed in 2021.

Updated: September 9, 2019 05:50 PM

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