A view of the National Paints road at 7am. Image Credit: Asha Mathew

The Fifth Industrial Interchange, commonly known as the National Paints bridge, in Sharjah, has been under renovation for a few years and two new lanes were opened nearly two months ago on February 22, in a bid to ease traffic on Mohammad Bin Zayed Road.

Readers have regularly complained about traffic congestion in this area in the past. We decided to check with our community journalists to find out if the expansion is saving time and having a positive impact on their lives.

Gulf News reader Rajesh Kapur wrote:

Over a period of 10 days, I drove through the expanded National Paints bridge around 5pm, every day, and observed that the traffic situation has drastically improved.

There is smooth flowing traffic on the bridge during the evening rush hours, when people are heading home from Dubai to Sharjah between 5 and 8pm. I spoke to many of my friends about it and they felt the same way. The only time I have witnessed traffic congestion on the bridge is when two lanes were closed for maintenance.

Just before the bridge, there is an intersection where I witnessed moderate traffic as this 300-metre stretch of road has only three lanes. Maintenance work is still ongoing here, but as soon as this intersection opens with five lanes, the traffic from Dubai to Sharjah will be the smoothest possible as the entire E311, or Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, will have five lanes or more.

In the opposite direction, when going from Sharjah to Dubai, there is still heavy traffic congestion as there are still only three lanes and work is ongoing to open new lanes on this side, too. Once that happens, the problem will surely be solved.

Earlier, my travel time from Mirdif City Centre to the National Paints Bridge used to take between 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the traffic. However, with the new lanes openeing, it takes only seven to ten minutes in the evening. It is a huge reduction in commuting time!

I wish to thank the authorities who have made commendable improvements in surface transport infrastructure for the benefit of the commuters. My only request to them is to consider extending the Dubai Metro services to Sharjah and Ajman. I am sure that this step will help relieve the traffic woes to a greater extent as almost all the roads of Sharjah and Dubai have been widened to the limit.

In the time saved, the Rajesh Kapur manages to spend time with his children and save money. How? His children attend music classes in the evening and since he was stuck in traffic and wasn’t home on time, they would have to take a taxi to their respective classes, which cost Dh20 a day. Now, he drops his children to class himself, which gets him to save Dh400 in a month.

He said: “More than the money, the time that we spend together on the way to class is what matters to me. My children are growing up fast and there are times when they just want to discuss things. On our way, we talk about their lives and I can give them advice.”

He also emphasises that reaching home earlier than before means he is less stressed, and it also reduces his carbon footprint with less time spent in the car driving.

 — The reader is based in Sharjah.

Gulf News reader Asha Mathew wrote:

Every morning, I commute to school at 7am. The bus travels past the National Paints bridge, and I witness a trail of cars waiting to go towards Dubai.

It takes a lot of patience and tolerance by the motorists to reach their destination. Sometimes I wonder what would a person do in case of an emergency?

This is the situation on a daily basis for the past several years. I know of many commuters who prefer taking the Emirates Road even though it is a longer route rather than waiting on Mohammad Bin Zayed road.

However, with the opening of the expanded National Paints bridge, the traffic situation has improved during rush hour in the evenings, when people are going home to Sharjah.

We only use the bridge if we go out in the evening. As seen in the photograph, which was taken at 8.30pm on a weekday, the new bridge is clear when travelling towards Sharjah in the evening.

I hope the situation further improves with the opening of all the new lanes on the National Paints bridge.

 — The reader is a special educator based in Sharjah.

We also spoke to a few other readers who use the route on a daily basis. This was our finding:

Sajid Esmail, Digital Strategist based in Ajman, said: “From Dubai Media City to Ajman in 45 minutes instead of 90 minutes, that’s what opening up the new lanes on Mohammad Bin Zayed Road and the National Paints bridge has done to my daily commute from work to home. It makes a world of a difference coming home earlier. It gives me time to spend with the family and do other things for which I had no time earlier. I can’t wait for both sides of the road to be fully functional, so I can skip taking Emirates Road entirely.”

Time saved: 45 minutes

Anil Kumar, Sales manager based in Sharjah, said: “Earlier I was afraid to use the National Paints bridge as it was infamous for traffic issues. I’ve been using a different route, but there are times, at least twice a week, when I use the Mohammad Bin Zayed Road to go home. With the expansion, the traffic has eased a lot. Whenever I use it, I have noticed that I manage to save at least 15 minutes compared to last year, for example. Reaching home earlier means I get to watch my favourite show on television.”

Time saved: 15 minutes

 

Lakshmi Nandakumar, Teacher based in Sharjah, said: “Since I live in Sharjah, I use the National Paints bridge around two to three times a week. At first I felt like it actually takes more time as compared to other routes due to more traffic. However, now I am able to reach home early since the expansion on the bridge, and I manage to save around 20 minutes. This allows me to spend more time with my husband and children after I have reached home, and I can also attend to my domestic duties.”

Time saved: 20 minutes

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