Sharjah: Biju comes to work every morning at 8am, sweeps the heaps of dust from the entrance of his small grocery store, hoping that business will pick up as he sits behind the till patiently waiting for his first customer.
Just like other shops located in the midst of the National Paints roundabout construction, Biju’s small business has suffered severely over the past year as access to the street has been blocked with deep sandy pits and large cranes.
The ongoing construction work in the fifth industrial intersection has left shopkeepers around the area unhappy with the lack of parking, slow business and the clouds of dust.
The third phase of the construction work on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, costing around Dh350 million, started in the summer this year. While the three-phase project is planned to be completed by December, shopkeepers told Gulf News that they are not convinced that the work will be done before the end of the year.
“It’s been more than one and a half years since construction has started in front of my supermarket. The municipality said they will clear the area in three months, but I am not sure this will be the case,” said Abdul Aziz Mohammad, manager of Al Hilal Supermarket under the Al Madina Group.
With no place to park and a very small sandy passage for customers to walk on, Mohammad explained that there has been a dip in sales as access to the store is restricted. “There is no access or parking on the whole street and also no pavement or passageway to walk on so we have a lot less customers coming to the supermarket,” he said. With business suffering, Mohammad, who has sent multiple requests asking for support from the municipality, said that his supermarket is running on loans. “We have not received any support, and there’s a high cost to keep the supermarket running especially as electricity bills have increased from Dh12,000 a month to Dh17,000,” he said.
Shagi, the manager of Sharjah Community Bakery also located at the roundabout, told Gulf News that he is doubtful that the situation will improve any time soon. In addition to low sales, truck suppliers who deliver the food products twice a day have restricted access to the bakery, he complained. “It’s very hard for them to deliver the food because they have to park in the National Paint Company parking and walk on the small sandy passage down the street to the bakery every day,” explained Shagi. Sharing his frustration, another employee at the store said that the clouds of dust that continue to make their way into the bakery, have to be swept out several times a day.
The work being carried out at the intersection includes the widening of Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road to increase the number of the existing three lanes to five lanes in each direction and constructing a new drainage network for rainwater as well as installing street lights.
The roadworks are also affecting small groceries and pharmacies located after the roundabout, further down Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road heading towards Sharjah. Pharmacist Lamia Abu Jouda who works at Bashar Pharmacy said that the pharmacy had to shut down for over six months last year due to the construction work. “It reopened in April and since then we have had very few customers, no parking at all, and so much dust coming in every day,” said Lamia.
The project’s first phase, which cost Dh64 million, was completed in January 2012, while the second phase, which will cost Dh468 million, was completed in the middle of this year. Phase two included work carried out at the intersection on the border between Sharjah and Ajman continuing on Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Road heading towards Dubai.
With several months left before the project’s set deadline, Biju said that there is nothing left for him to do but hope that more customers will walk into his grocery store the next day.