(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Looks like breezing through the Dubai-Sharjah roads has become a thing of the past. Haven't you noticed an increase in traffic lately, especially while driving to work in the morning or leaving in the evening? Traffic jams are back and the Road and Traffic Authority (RTA) has confirmed it. One of the main reasons cited is the reopening of schools.
A spokesman for the RTA said the problem is mainly caused by parents driving children to schools from different parts of the city. They create a traffic jam in specific school areas that could reach the main roads.
"Mothers, who usually stay at home, take children to school. Now imagine hundreds doing so every morning," the spokesperson said.
Nazim Faisal, RTA's Safety Department Manager, said that the authority cannot do anything regarding the issue. "We can't ask the schools to shift to different timings so the time is distributed and the traffic is reduced," he said. "We launch safety and awareness campaigns and make sure that roads are ready for buses. Otherwise, it is the Ministry of Education's responsibility to handle the school locations and timings." He added that the campaigns included direct points to both bus drivers and parents to comply with. They were also instructed to avoid parking in wrong places. Drivers are also required to slow down near school/bus zones. He urged drivers to make sure that children's safety belts are fastened even during short trips.
With regard to the issue of different timings for different schools, an official from the Ministry of Education said: "The issue was encountered a couple of years ago. The situation was worse than now, before both boys' and girls' buses left for school at the same time. But now the boys reach school first and then comes the girls' turn," the official said.
"What more can we do? The situation has to be looked into properly and we would require time. We might discuss (the issue) during the directors' meeting with the minister to see if we can solve it further. And the issue is relevant to both the Ministry of Education and the RTA, as we recommend and they implement."
Ikram El Mosleh a 24-year-old Palestinian commuter said: "Ever since school and universities began, we are suffering from mega traffic jams. Traffic is often found in critical areas of the country especially the routes leading to Dubai and Sharjah."
"Yes, I do encounter traffic but that's when I leave to drop my siblings to school between 7.10 and 7.45," said Emirati, Sumaya Al Marzooqi. "After that the traffic is less. Yeah, it has increased especially because of the big yellow buses that take up so much space. It has also affected my daily driving because sometimes I have to leave late in order to avoid the traffic but then that is putting my siblings at the risk of getting late."
"The first week we started university, it was almost too good to be true, there was no traffic on the Emirates Road whatsoever towards Sharjah," said Dania Mohammed Al Ayyat, who is from Egypt.
"Even on the way back to Dubai there was no traffic. We didn't have to wake up half an hour earlier to reach on time and no accidents were reported. Yet, when schools started a week later, we were rudely awaken from that dream. Since then, there is always traffic on the Emirates Road, and more accidents started happening, which means more traffic for endless hours. You can say that after that first week, 'good' mornings just faded away."
Muneer Al Huseini, 28, from the Sultanate of Oman, said the problem starts at 7am and the roads are clogged. He complains about school buses which fill the streets. "I decide to wake up at 5.45 to avoid the party of buses," as he calls it. He also opts for the Metro to spare him from the misery.
"Morning traffic caused by schools is unpredictable and is confusing, so I leave my house to work 45 minutes before my normal time, though it used to take me just10 minutes to reach office in summer," Ahmed Sheqwara, from Jordan said.
American citizen Sarah started getting stuck in traffic in the morning especially after schools started. "I have to wake up early in general, but due to the school traffic I have to wake up earlier than usual."
Jordanian, Ady Badawi, runs into heavy traffic in the mornings and evenings. "It causes more accidents on the streets, more delays to meetings and jobs, which requires us now to leave earlier to work, and leave late from work, as well. Why don't they start schools a bit later than usual or earlier?"
Mohammed Mahmoud, from Egypt, said the traffic has doubled on the Sharjah-Dubai Ittihad road in the morning and the evenings. "It has affected my driving and I'm sometimes reckless to reach my destination. My suggestion is to start online education to curb this waste of time on the road."
Sally Mashal, too, encounters traffic and it's become much worse since school started. "It makes going to work very stressful. It's time consuming and very tiring especially now that I'm pregnant," she added. One reason for the slowing down of traffic between Dubai and Sharjah is the second phase of the project on Emirates Road.
Work on this main artery will extend from Ajman to Dubai's borders. This includes renovating and developing five flyover intersections and increasing the number of lanes in each direction from three to five. The preliminary work on the project has already begun and alternative routes will be set up during the work.
The current Al Dhaid, King Abdul Aziz and University City intersections will also be developed. New bridges will also be built for the smooth flow of traffic from Dubai to Sharjah, and Sharjah to Ajman. In addition to the road expansion, the pump station's efficiency and capacity for draining rainwater from the roads will be improved.
The total cost of this vital project is estimated to be around Dh900 million, and is expected to be completed within two years.
The work linking Emirates Road with Ras Al Khaimah will cover Al Qusaidat-Shaam road, starting from Shamal area and linking it with Emirates Road in Al Dhaid. The road will consist of three lanes in each direction.
The project will also include three main upper intersections and three secondary upper intersections and aims to ensure hassle-free travel for residents in Ras Al Khaimah.