After living for 12 years in The Gardens, Karina Clarkson, 40, is now looking to move out. The daily traffic gridlock in the community has left the British expat with few options.
Every morning, it takes Clarkson around 40 minutes to cover a mere 1.5 km stretch from her apartment in building (No 99) to the Shaikh Zayed Road exit.
In the evening it’s the same story all over again with the traffic snarls building up here as early as 5.30pm.
“Again I end up spending nearly a quarter of an hour to cover this small distance.
Clarkson said she has taken a week’s leave to hunt for another house. “I am definitely moving out. I cannot do this anymore. My day begins with a lot of uncertainty. I have to drop off my daughter at a school in Jumeirah. When she started school three years ago, I would leave home at 7am and reach her school by 8am. Now I start at 6.45am and still end up reaching the school late. I am yet to figure out the right time to leave my place as no matter what time I leave, I am invariably late.”
Clarkson said she no longer parks her car in her building. “Instead I put it in building 75 as it’s close to the Ibn Battuta exit to Shaikh Zayed Road. It saves me about 10 minutes. In the morning every minute matters.”
When it rains the traffic sitution in Discovery Gardens gets even worse.
And it did on February 13 when a downpour on the previous evening caused a tailback that stretched for miles. Motorists headed for Shaikh Zayed Road were stranded for three hours.
Clarkson recalls: “In a car next to mine there was a little baby who would not stop crying. Eventually his father got out and started cradling the child in the middle of the road.”
There are four bottlenecks around the Nakheel developed community – the Winchester School and Jebel Ali Village roundabouts, the mosque junction next to Chubby Cheeks nursery and Street 1 near Ziqoo Hotel Apartments.
For Clarkson the traffic situation deteriorated after a pipeline burst in The Gardens last July, forcing the closure of a key road between Gardens 3 and 7 near Chubby Cheeks nursery. “Till today nothing has been done to open the road and fix the pipe. As a result The Gardens residents have to take a major detour to reach Shaikh Zayed Road. I am now forced to take a back route to The Gardens boulevard, heading towards Al Khail Road. I then have to take a U-turn at the end of Discovery Gardens traffic light and go all the way to Shaikh Zayed Road. My other option is to take the Winchester roundabout and join the traffic jam already there.”
Building 152 resident Dr. Poonam Sharma said she will move out if the traffic situation does not improve soon. “On February 13, I was stuck for about three hours. I can’t handle this any more. My daughter studies at Delhi Private School in Jebel Ali rarely reaches school on time.”
An ever-increasing population in DG, The Gardens, Jebel Ali Village and Al Furjan have been also blamed for the traffic mess. There are 291 buildings in DG, 290 villas in Jebel Ali Village, around 600 occupied villas in Al Furjan Community and hundreds of apartments in The Gardens. All these communities have only two main exits to Shaikh Zayed Road – the mosque junction near Chubby Cheeks and the Jebel Ali Village roundabout. A sandy patch of road behind Al Furjan is opened on and off. Another sandy patch exit near the Ibn Battuta station has also been closed. A number of smaller exits and U-turns around these areas have also been closed, adding pressure to existing roads. “There are plenty of traffic lights too waiting to become operational, adding to the mess,” said Praveen B, a resident of Building 116.
“RTA must immediately open the Al Khail exit near Dubai Investments Park (DIP). This will greatly help people living in the DG and The Gardens areas and those wanting to go to Abu Dhabi,” said Praveen. Another exit point in Street 5, DG, just opposite the district cooling building too has been closed for a while. “People are forced to go all the way to the roundabout ahead and take a U turn. Another case in point is a three-lane road leading to the Jebel Ali Village roundabout which has now become a single lane. The daily traffic pile up here is unimaginable,” said Praveen.
Al Furjan community residents too for long have been asking Nakheel and RTA to open a back access road to enter and exit the community. “We have a back route to enter and exit the Al Furjan community from Al Khail road. However, it is mostly closed for reasons unknown. As a result, residents have no choice but to take the main DG exit points to hit Shaikh Zayed,” said Paul Johnson, a Al Furjan resident who leaves home at 6am to reach work at 8am.