Jul 16, 2009

Abu Dhabi earmarks Dh40m for road safety

Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport has launched a Dh40 million safety improvement programme for the Al Mafraq-Al Ghuwaifat Road, considered the most dangerous in the UAE.

The 327km highway links the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The project aims to enhance traffic security and bring the road's safety features in line with international standards, officials said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Abu Dhabi Department of Transport aims to improve levels of traffic safety on this vital road link to meet international safety standards as part of the department's strategy to raise levels of traffic safety on highways across the emirate," said Faisal Al Suwaidi, Executive Director Highways, at the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport.

According to statistics, 14 per cent of the accidents in Abu Dhabi took place on this road in 2007.

Al Suwaidi said the Dep-artment of Transport is investing Dh40 million to enhance driver safety, including improving U-turns, closing dangerous U-turns between Al Mafraq and Al Ghuwaifat, installing directional and warning signs, road markings, solar power flashers at unlit U-turns, and speed humps in rest areas.

The scheme, he said, also aims to improve pedestrian crossings through the Al Sila area among other measures.

"It is expected that all of these improvements will be implemented by the end of the year,"

Al Ghuwaifat is a town in Al Gharbia, where roughly eight per cent of the emirate's population, or 120,000 people, live.

However, Al Garbia takes up 83 per cent of Abu Dhabi's land area and 70 per cent of the entire country. It also has the richest oil reserves and accounts for about 40 per cent of the emirate's gross domestic product.

In addition, Abu Dhabi Traffic Police, the strategic partner of the Department of Transport in this initiative, has installed 20 solar-powered speed radars along the highway.

"We realise the importance of the Al Mafraq-Al Ghuwaifat highway linking Abu Dhabi to the neighbouring regions.

"We are also aware of the dangers that exist on this road. In cooperation with the Abu Dhabi traffic police, we are adopting critical measures to enhance safety and reduce the rate of accidents.

"We are working to provide advanced transport systems in the emirate to meet international safety standards," Al Suwaidi said.

Colonel Engineer Hussain Ahmad Al Harthi, Director of the Traffic Engineering and Road Safety Department at the Abu Dhabi Police, said traffic safety is one of their top priorities.

"Our plan ensures that we work with strategic partners to enhance the level of traffic safety across the emirate.

"We will work to intensify our efforts to increase traffic awareness and reduce accidents, especially in areas where accidents are on the increase.

"To this end, we intend to install speed signs and speed radars and intensify police patrols, and to issue on the spot fines to those who violate traffic laws," he said.

These immediate measures are part of a four-year programme to develop this major road link.

Earlier this year, the Department of Transport announced the selection of five international consortia for the new Mafraq-Ghuweifat International Highway Public-Private-Partnership Project Tender from an original shortlist of nine.

The selected consortia will work on designing, building, financing and operating the 327km highway linking Mafraq to the border post with Saudi Arabia at Ghuwaifat over the next 25 years.

Currently, work is in progress on the Al Mafraq-Al Ghuwaifat highway to expand the road to eight lanes, four in each direction, doubling the road's capacity up to the Al Ruwais junction.

After the junction, the road will be widened to six lanes, three in each direction, up to the international border with Saudi Arabia.

The Government has earmarked Dh98 billion for the economic development of Al Garbia.

Another major project is an 80km road connecting Gayathi and Madinat Zayed.

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