Dubai: A temporary closure of Al Shindagha Tunnel — one of the five crossings on Dubai Creek — led to traffic jams in Deira and Bur Dubai on Wednesday. One of the oldest links between Dubai’s two busiest areas, the unannounced closure of Al Shindagha Tunnel saw motorists taking diversions and a knock-on effect was felt at other crossings.

According to a senior Roads and Transport (RTA) official, the tunnel was closed by Dubai Police after patrols detected water seepage in the tunnel.

“Police patrols found water in the tunnel and, to make sure the tunnel is safe, police closed the tunnel. RTA officials then carried out routine maintenance checks in the tunnel and it was reopened in 20 minutes,” said Hussain Al Banna, director of traffic at RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency.

The decision to close the tunnel to traffic was taken at around 11:30am, when traffic was at its peak, and the maintenance work that was to be finished in 20 minutes appeared to drag on for much longer.

“Traffic movement slowed down suddenly when I was driving on Baniyas street and a normal 10-minute drive from Dubai Municipality head office to Al Shindagha tunnel took around 40 minutes. Nobody had any idea what’s causing the jam,” said Syed Ali, a motorist who was caught unawares.

However, the RTA insisted that no traffic diversions had been effected and that the tunnel was opened immediately after precautionary checks were done.

“Announcements about the closure were done on RTA’s electronic information boards and motorists who read the message took alternative crossings, which caused unusual rush on those crossings,” said another motorist.

Long lines of traffic could be seen on several busy roads such as Al Khaleej road, Al Khor street, Baniyas street, Naif street and Sabkha Street, all leading to Shindagha tunnel.