Ashghal plans to build camel crossing tunnels on highways to reduce accidents
Qatar's highways are soon to turn camel-friendly. The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) has lined up multi-billion riyal road projects that include at least 20 camel crossing tunnels.
Ashghal's innovative idea is expected to bring down the increasing number of camel-vehicle collisions, where both sides emerge the worse for wear.
The largest number of camel crossing tunnels will be built in the Phase III project of Dukhan Highway. Ashghal has plans to construct seven tunnels along the 42km road, which extends from the west of Shahaniyya to Zikrit, near the Dukhan Industrial Area.
The Ashghal project entails the construction of another five camel crossing tunnels on the 61km road from Al Khor to Al Ruwais. The phase IV project of North Road and the Phase I project of Salwa Road will have three tunnels apiece.
The 35km North Road has become notorious for frequent accidents due to camels crossing the road. The project covers the stretch between Zubarah and Ras Usheiraj. The Salwa Road project covers an 81km stretch connecting Abu Samra to Doha.
The Umm Birkah Road extending from Zubarah Interchange to Ras Laffan will also be provided with a few camel crossing tunnels.
This is the first time Qatar will be constructing crossing tunnels for stray camels. The idea is to avoid road accidents and to save the camels' lives. "Qatar's northern roads often witness the crossing of stray camels. Since the maximum speed limit on these roads has been fixed at 120km per hour, the risk is very high. The rate of accidents is higher during nights and the winter season", an Ashghal source told The Peninsula.
Ashghal has put up a large number of warning signs along highways about camels crossing the roads. However, the signs seldom help because motorists drive as if there is no tomorrow. This is cited as one of the main reasons for the collisions
In addition to the camel crossing tunnels, Ashghal has also drawn up plans to put up fences at specially-identified areas to ensure the camels do not bypass the crossing tunnels and stray on to the highways.
Saudi Arabia has studied incidents of camel-crossing related accidents on its rural roads to develop techniques to deal with the problem.
In the study, seven camel-crossing warning signs were used to find out if they were effective in reducing the number of camel-vehicle collisions.
The measure of effectiveness utilised was the reduction in speed of the motorists passing the signs. Although the signs brought about reductions in speed, they were relatively ineffective with drivers slowing down by only three to seven kilometres per hour, the study showed.