Ramadan traffic jams in Al Ain. Image Credit: Aftab Hussain Kazmi/Gulf News

Al Ain: Increased traffic and downtown gridlocks are testing peoples’ nerves during the peak hours.

Long queues of cars, buses and other vehicles on almost all streets in the downtown area have become a regular feature. During much of the day, when sun blazes, streets remain deserted. But at around 8.30pm traffic starts picking up, peaking between 9pm and midnight.

Residents of the fast-developing city have urged the civic administration and traffic police to make special arrangements for maintaining the smooth traffic flow during Ramadan.

The city’s entire work schedule has changed, said Ahmad Waleed, a downtown resident, adding that nights have become days in Ramadan. Markets and shopping centres remain open well after midnight as people avoid outdoor activities in the daytime, he said.

As many outdoor activities take place at night, traffic jams on Shaikh Khalifa Street, the Main Street (Sultan Bin Zayed I Street), the Gold Souq, Hassa Bint Muhammad Street (between Planning Interchange and Saniyah police station), Ali Ibne Talib Street, Sultan Bin Khalid Street, Mezyad Road and a number of other roads waste much of the motorists’ time, said Waleed.

“We have stopped getting out between the rush hours,” said Fatima Khan, a resident of Khalifa Street. All the streets are chock a block and traffic moves at the snail’s pace, she said. “Actually, a majority of the residents come out from their home to shop and for other routine matters,” she said.

The situation is likely to grow more difficult in the last 10 days of Ramadan when Eid shopping will start, said Mohammad Sharif, another expatriate resident. Schools are closed but most of the residents have not yet gone on the annual holidays. “They are waiting for Eid and then a shopping spree will start causing more traffic problems in the city,” he added.

Taxi drivers also avoid to enter the crowded areas adding more to the difficulties of the general public. Adam Khan, a taxi driver, said that nearly half of his most productive time is wasted in the traffic jams. He, however, admits that taxi drivers prefer to pick up passengers going to the destinations outside the rush areas.