x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Road works shatter Sharjah peace

Residents say a project intended to relieve traffic congestion is causing chaos in once-quiet neighbourhoods.

Road works and construction in the residential area of Al Tala´a in Sharjah.
Road works and construction in the residential area of Al Tala´a in Sharjah.

SHARJAH // A project intended to relieve traffic congestion is causing chaos in once-quiet neighbourhoods, residents say. The municipality is building 32km of roads in the Khazzamiyeh and Tala'a neighbourhoods as part of a Dh165 million (US$45m) infrastructure plan that also includes the construction of stormwater drainage and improvements to the sewerage system.

Residents acknowledge the project will have long-term benefits, but say the construction is preventing them from leading normal lives. The municipality says some disruptions are inevitable. "They don't respect the neighbourhood and the residents," said Ahmad al Najjar, 18, who has lived in leafy Khazzamiyeh with his family for eight years. "The machinery blocks the street so it is impossible to get out. Sometimes they close both ends of the street, which means you have to drive all the way round and park somewhere else to get to your house."

He said the construction was launched about two months ago without any warning and that he and his family were now being awoken every morning at 6.30am by the sounds of heavy machinery. He said the foundations of their house shake: "It feels like an earthquake." Stepping outside the gates of the house, one can see the debris of construction lying all around the neighbourhood. Mounds of sand and dust are piled up haphazardly, making it almost impossible to manoeuvre a car down the street. Furthermore, roads have been blocked seemingly at random and huge pipes have been placed against the walls of the villas. Holes have also been dug, making it awkward to walk about.

Mr Najjar's sister Aliyah agreed that moving around the area had become difficult. "I do think it will be an improvement when it all finishes, but I don't know when that will be," she said. "No one even told us they were going to construct. It's been going on for a while now, and it is impossible to move about, getting to school for example," added one of their neighbours, Fatima Amin, a mother of five. "The walls and the ceiling shake badly."

In nearby Tala'a the disruptions are not as great as in Khazzamiyeh, but the residents say they are still bothered. Hassan Gomaysa al Basti added that none of the residents understood exactly what was being done. "We haven't been informed of the development and what they want to do. All we know is that it's been going on for about a month and is causing problems for us and making it hard to get around."

Businesses in the neighbourhoods are less upset about the construction work. Haji Maideen, who works in the Razan Pharmacy on the outskirts of Khazzamiyeh, sympathised with the residents but felt the construction would be beneficial. "It will make the roads smoother, which is important," he said. "It's a really nice neighbourhood, but the roads were very ugly." New rules banning labourers from working in the searing afternoon heat also mean the residents will have to put up with the disruptions for even longer.