Sharjah: Police are trying to break gridlocks on the interchange in Sharjah’s Al Nahda area, next to Sahara Centre mall, following complaints from motorists, a top official said.
The bridge is clogged during rush hour on weekdays, while mall visitors also find themselves stuck during weekend nights.
“We’re aware of the problem and we’ve received many complaints. Police units are being sent there every day to manage traffic,” Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Bin Darwish, head of the Patrol Department of Sharjah Police, told Gulf News.
The small bridge has only one lane in each direction and is used to enter and exit Al Nahda, a busy residential area.
It is also used to access and exit Sahara Centre, a popular shopping mall that recently opened an extension of the property. Police are expecting even more traffic following the extension’s opening, Bin Darwish said.
The problems are compounded by motorists trying to access a U-turn at the foot of the bridge near Al Nahda Park. Traffic from the bridge and other lanes on the ground is being forced to merge into a single lane to access the U-turn, creating a bottleneck.
Police often fence off the U-turn during peak hours to reduce the problem, but some motorists push away the fence. Earlier this week, a four-wheel-drive was spotted pushing away the barrier with its front bumper.
Also problematic is a small roundabout at the other end of the interchange. During rush hour, the tailbacks ripple back onto Al Nahda Road and the street behind Sahara Centre.
“I took me 32 minutes on the bridge. I was visiting a friend in Al Nahda,” said a Pakistani motorist.
An Indian mother-of-two added: “We’ve stopped going to Sahara Centre because of the traffic on the bridge. Getting in isn’t the problem, it’s getting out that’s tough on the weekends. The only other option is to park on the opposite side of the road and use the pedestrian bridge to cross over.”
Recently, a man — apparently mall security — was standing on Al Nahda Road next to Sahara Centre trying to manage traffic near the approach to the bridge. He was waving a red light stick gesturing motorists to head straight and avoid the ramp up to the bridge as it was clogged.
Bin Darwish said only police officials are allowed to intervene on the roads.
“We’re trying to facilitate the flow of traffic, no-one else should try to take matters into their own hands — for their own safety,” he said.
“It could be that traffic is particularly busy nowadays because people are still trying to get used to the opening of the mall extension. Traffic slows down when school buses are using the roads in the area, but most schools are off now. The problem is related to the morning and even rush hour and we’re helping motorists cope.”