6:30am Sunday: Gridlock. Chaos on Al Nahda Street before merging with Al Ittihad Road Image Credit: Abhishek Sengupta/XPRESS

Dubai: After living in Sharjah’s Al Khan for five years and often toying with the idea of moving to Dubai to beat daily traffic woes, Indian engineer Ajith Nair, 38, finally snapped this week.

Since schools reopened this month, he says, he’s spent over two hours on his way to work in Jebel Ali most mornings, twice the time it took him earlier. “Add another hour to that for the return legs and you are spending almost five hours on the road – at least three more than what it would take me earlier. So I have decided to move to Mirdif next month. I will pay almost the same rent for a smaller apartment but it will mean that I will have at least three hours of extra time everyday,” says the father of two who says he knows two more families who are throwing in the towel.

Unending nightmare

Unusually long tailbacks, massive bottlenecks at major junctions and heavy traffic that barely moves – life has been a creepy crawl these past few weeks, say those driving daily to Dubai from Sharjah and back, unlike anything they have seen before. “Driving to work and back was never a joy ride, but now it’s become one endless ordeal. It’s a nightmare on the road every morning and evening,” says Pakistani Syed Ali, 35, putting his daily grind to Dubai Investment Part from Sharjah’s King Faisal Road into perspective.

“I have made up my mind. If this goes on for another month or two, I will move to Dubai when my tenancy expires in December,” adds Ali who has had to endure horrendous traffic for weeks since schools reopened, coinciding with several key road upgrades and maintenance works in Sharjah – including a Dh11.4-million project to upgrade King Faisal Street that started in July. Its first phase was completed only last Thursday, opening the Dubai-bound road after months, but the opposite side of the road remains closed. “The tailbacks, as a result, follow us everywhere – on Al Wahda street, on Mohammad Bin Zayed Road, on Al Ittihad Road – whichever route we choose,” added Ali.

Borderline cases

Many who live on the periphery of the Dubai-Sharjah border, in areas like Al Nahda, however, remain largely unaffected by the road works. Rush hour traffic, though, haunts them as much.

“It’s baffling why. There aren’t any apparent changes to the roads I take, but the traffic, especially during evenings, has gone from bad to worse I have seen in years. I pay two tolls every evening - one on the Al Maktoum Bridge and one passing through the Al Mamzar Salik gate on Al Ittihad Street but it means nothing. Suddenly traffic on these stretches has grown manifold,” says Egyptian Wael Kanakri, 39, who lives in Al Nahda.

“Such is situation now that I am considering either moving or changing work hours to cut down on this criminal waste of time,” says the father of one who thinks a lot of this worsening traffic situation has got to do with people moving into Sharjah from Dubai over the summer. “I know at least three families who have done so in recent times and there must be many more that we don’t know of – all adding to the traffic that was already nightmarish.”

Sri Lankan Wilfred Perreira, 42, who lives in Muhaisnah, says traffic in Dubai isn’t any better. “Even the airport toll gate doesn’t help much most evenings, but you know something is wrong with the traffic when you are crawling even at nine in the evening.”

Motorists say the torture has been similar in recent weeks around the same times even on the Al Ittihad Road - the major road connecting Sharjah and Dubai.

YOUSPEAK: What can be done to ease congestion on Dubai-Sharjah roads?