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Mohammad Waqas sets off from his home in Sharjah at 6.30am daily and returns around 7.30pm after a 13-hour day, four of which are spent in negotiating traffic that he gets stuck in on his way to work and back.
The 35-year old is among thousands of expatriates who work in Dubai and live in Sharjah, but have to suffer additional hours of traffic for it.
Waqas, a Pakistani expat, lives in the Muweilah area of Sharjah near the National Paints Interchange and takes the Mohammad Bin Zayed Road to travel to and from his office, which is located in Dubai Investment Park (DIP).
A 70km distance that under normal circumstances should not take more than 45 minutes to cover, takes Waqas more than double the time during peak hours.
“In the morning, I start around 6am and reach office just before 8am when my office hours start, but it is the evening traffic that causes real frustration; sometimes, it takes more than two hours to reach home,” said Waqas, who works as an accountant.
He is pinning his hopes on the concerted efforts by the authorities who are sparing no effort in expanding and updating the road infrastructure year by year.
“We can see that a lot is being done by the authorities, but with more people coming to the UAE, the problem keeps getting bigger,” said Waqas. “But with the work on connecting Mohammad Bin Zayed road with Emirates road and the new interchange on the Emirates giving better access to Sharjah, there might be some relief for us,” he said.
Unlike Waqas, 38-year-old Zubai Haider, an assistant marketing manager in a Dubai-based firm, has been born and brought up in Sharjah and has lived there all his life.
As someone who has seen the worst of Dubai-Sharjah traffic in earlier times, Haider has gotten used to the daily crawl.
“I have lived all my life in Sharjah and have been doing the daily trips to Dubai for decades now. At one time, I used to work in Dubai Media City and I live in Rolla and it used to, mostly, take me more than three hours one way. Like many people [who do this trip], I used to sleep in the car.” But Haider believes the situation has improved. “It is comparatively better now,” he said.
Haider now lives at the Sharjah Industrial Area 6 and works in Business Bay, so his daily commute has gotten shorter but he still has to spend between 90 minutes and two hours one way, depending on when he leaves.
“I usually take the Business Bay Crossing onwards to Airport tunnel. I don’t often try different routes, I think all the routes are more or less the same. I take a short break in between, get a tea and relax a bit, it’s easier [to cope] that way,” added Haider.
According to Haider, the main reason for the daily tailbacks is the inflexible office timing of almost all companies.
“I think office hours should be flexible and that could be one of the ways to tackle the issue. Right now, everybody is on the road at the same time. If the timings are staggered, then traffic will be distributed over a longer period of time, reducing congestion,” he added.
Traffic experts agree that staggered office hours could be one of the solutions that could lead to a significant reduction in congestion on the highways connecting the two emirates.