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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 June 2018

Sharjah commute: 'It should take ten minutes, but it takes 90'

While some businesses located on busy roads are missing out on visits from customers, others are profiting from delivery services

Congestion builds inthe afternoon on Al Ittihad Road, on the way to Sharjah. Reem Mohammed / The National
Congestion builds inthe afternoon on Al Ittihad Road, on the way to Sharjah. Reem Mohammed / The National

Crippling traffic on the main roads between Sharjah and Dubai is putting a strain on businesses in the surrounding areas as customers seek to avoid the gridlock.

“If a journey ordinarily takes ten minutes, it will take at least one hour and a half after 5am,” said Ahmed Mohammed, a delivery driver for Al Arz Bakery.

For Mr Mohammed, the traffic is both a blessing and a curse. The congestion means he is needed to deliver food but also means he spends hours in traffic.

“Some customers get frustrated when I do not deliver their orders in a short period of time. I try to explain to them that there is a traffic jam and the roads are blocked,” he said.

While complaints from clients can hurt the business, the bakery can also profit from the traffic when commuters caught in congestion on Al Ittihad Road – where the bakery is located - stop by for a meal.

Mr Mohammed, a 27-year-old Egyptian, said he has spent most of his life behind the wheel.

“I usually commute on Mohammed bin Zayed Road. When I have an order in Al Barsha, Marina, or far away areas, I spend at least three hours driving back to the bakery.

“I always drink coffee and listen to the radio to entertain myself in such circumstances. I wish to have someone with me to talk to while driving, but my work as a delivery man is linked to commuting. I have no other option,” he said.

As a taxi driver, Khan Bismallah, too cannot avoiding the traffic.

“Dropping a passenger from Dubai to Sharjah is always hectic, even if I am driving to Sharjah at 10pm.”

He said journeys between the two emirates can take up to three hours.

“A person commuting from Sharjah to Dubai on a daily basis needs extra coffee and Panadol for headaches,” said the 30-year-old Pakistani driver.

Hana Taher, a pharmacist at Life Pharmacy, said the heavy traffic means business suffers.

“Some people do not prefer to approach the pharmacy as it’s located in a busy area.

“Finding a parking is almost impossible so many people complain about not finding a place to stop in the area.”

Mrs Taher, 30, said the problem was worsened after the free parking area surrounding the shop became a paid zone.

“One of the reasons that might affect whether our pharmacy is approachable by customers is paying for parking as it was free a while ago,” she said.

The Jordanian said she hoped the opening of Al Budaiya Bridge this year would ease traffic and improve business.

“Traffic is much less congested in Dubai and I believe it’s to some bridges that links some areas in Dubai.”

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Read more:

Commuters between Sharjah and Dubai get creative to avoid traffic

Traffic congestion between Sharjah and Dubai 'to end in 2018'

Dubai commuters spent three working days stuck in heavy traffic last year, study finds

Special report: Life in the fast lane - the future of transport in the UAE

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For some businesses, the traffic has helped bring customers to their doors.

Sunesh Apndarah, a sales manager at Grand Sagar restaurant - located just off Al Ittihad Road, said the congestion had brought them business.

“Commuters working in Deira have to pass nearby the restaurant and some of them stop to order food,” he said.

“Our area during weekdays is very congested. Traffic sharply increases in the morning and from around 4:30pm until 9pm.”

Farah Mahmous, a 23-year-old promoter, lives near Sahara Centre and has to take the Dubai-Sharjah Road to get to work.

“There are no words to describe the heavy traffic in the morning.”

However, the Jordanian has a trick to make her morning commutes more tolerable.

“When I have work assignments in the morning, I remove my car from the parking, move towards the main road and ask our housemaid to bring me the coffee while I am driving,” she said.

“I get stuck underneath my building for a while and it takes so much time to move a bit on the road nearby Sahara Centre.”

“I know so much have been done to ease traffic, but hours behind the wheel causes so much stress,” said Ms Mahmoud.

“I experience congestions at least three times a week. I wonder how those who have to commute on a daily basis deal with it.”