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Posted On: 20 July 2009 11:37 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Streets anything but industrious

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Businesses and visitors to the country’s oldest industrial district continue to face poor road conditions despite numerous pleas for action. Their ire is the direct result of potholes, lack of street lighting, and the ever-growing mounds of trash - of both industrial and domestic nature - at the 55-street Industrial Area. “Even after repeated requests to fill potholes, fix street lamps and install signboards worthy of an industrial area, the situation has yet to change,” said a hardware trader of 10 years on Street 23. “It’s been like this for five years now. This has become the forgotten side of boom-town Doha.” Visitors to the area must first become part of the country’s heaviest traffic that moves at a snail’s pace. “They will then come across unmarked streets designed in a grid, where they will follow a maze, manoeuvring around abandoned vehicles, potholes large enough to accommodate whole cars, and seeping sewage that makes the car stink for days,” a Doha-based network engineer who drives to the area daily for company’s IT maintenance, said. “Add to that the scorching summer heat and the heavy dust, and you have a recipe for road rage,” he added. The abandoned vehicles have had their windows smashed, tyres nicked, engines removed and parts pilfered. In Qatar junked vehicles are regulated by Law 8 of 1974 that basically instructs the owner to remove their vehicles “within three days” after a notice is placed by municipality inspectors. Although geographically closer to Rayyan Municipality, Industrial Area falls under the ambit of Doha Municipality, which has just installed new street signs in the area – a long-standing demand of commuters. However, there are still some sections where the street signs are not visible enough or have fallen off, ostensibly – according to a garage owner on Street 15 – because the roundabouts of the Area are too small to allow passage to heavy vehicles without them hitting the signage. The US Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices notes that the street and traffic signs are an essential part of the urban setting: they should be placed as necessary for safety and proper regulation of traffic. “It’s a matter of productivity and efficiency. Imagine being lost in the area for hours and losing business as a result or failing to catch your meeting. “Worse is getting your car damaged after hitting a pit,” a warehouse manager on Street 32 said. “The most puzzling task though, is to figure out who to go to for road maintenance, neglected for so long now.” “Road work, when it does start, ends at the digging stage. The covering-up of the dug up section is never done immediately.” “Often you will see a hole dug for maintenance purpose and then left unattended, months on,” an attendant at a car dealership said. Ashghal, the Public Works Authority, maintains that its Operation and Maintenance Department is only responsible for maintenance of streets and roads wider than 24m, while anything smaller is the job of the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning.