x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Sharjah residents happy to pay price for smoother traffic flow

Progress UAE: Dh1bn roundabout on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road leads to long detours but also better future.

Maarouf P, who works at Al Shama cafeteria beside the National Paints roundabout, says the building work is affecting the business. Jaime Puebla / The National
Maarouf P, who works at Al Shama cafeteria beside the National Paints roundabout, says the building work is affecting the business. Jaime Puebla / The National

SHARJAH // Traffic has slowed to a snail's pace and businesses have moved or closed as the huge project to build a major roundabout on Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Road continues apace.

But residents say it is a price they are happy to pay for the streamlining of traffic.

Costing about Dh1 billion, the project in industrial area 5 known locally as the National Paints roundabout is one of the biggest and most expensive ever to be built in the emirate. The junction has long been the site of delays and tailbacks, but motorists heading to and from Dubai now have to use time-consuming and often winding alternative routes through industrial area 13 on Maliha Road.

"It's taking me about two hours' drive to get home from Dubai because of the traffic in this area," said Kaliq Ajay, a Sharjah resident who uses the road frequently.

"I have to take the road as most roads linking Dubai to Sharjah now have Salik."

It is not only motorists who have been affected.

Maarouf P, who works at Al Shama cafeteria opposite the National Paints bridge, said daily income had slumped since work started.

"Before we used to make about Dh1,500 a day but now we struggle to make Dh1,000, and you realise we are going to be struggling for almost a year as work on the bridge continues," Mr Maarouf said.

The project is being undertaken as part of funds allocated by the President Sheikh Khalifa for infrastructure development of the Northern Emirates.

As part of the third phase, construction crews have torn down and replaced the old bridge and widened the road to five lanes.

Drain networks to avoid flooding in winter have also been added.

ykakande@thenational.ae