By FAZEENA SALEEM
Traffic chaos on Doha’s roads has forced many residents to change their daily routine. They start their day at least one hour earlier and end it one hour late. Still it does not help every time.
“Earlier it took me 10 minutes to reach my office, now it’s 30 minutes and I live so close to my work place. The Mall signal has become a nightmare,” said Sindhu Nair, a journalist, who has to drive only 3km from her home to office.
“I have started to leave at least one hour ahead of meetings to be there on time. But on occasions even that doesn’t help.”
Every motorist who drives around Doha faces traffic jams on many streets daily, especially during rush hours in the mornings when students go to their schools and employees go to their offices and in the afternoons when they return home.
Some people have changed their routine — and routes — by avoiding certain roads when schools begin and close.
“Only some schools provide buses for their students. It’s so difficult to move on certain roads in the mornings and afternoons,” said Mohamed Aziz, an engineer by profession.
“If all schools provide bus services — there will be one vehicle (a bus) instead of say 30 cars (of parents taking their children to and from school).”
“It’s not possible to stop the population from increasing or repairing roads. But there should be alternative solutions.”
And weekend aggravates the problem — traffic moves at a snail’s pace, meaning longer tailbacks and still longer journey time.
The problem has become so acute, something that has to be coped with everyday that people have started wondering if there would be any solutions in the near future.
Some motorists complain that authorities do not provide proper alternatives while closing roads for excavations, renovations or any other work and even alternative roads are crowded during peak hours.
“Traffic has become a daily problem in Doha. There are congestions even on alternative roads. Now it has become compulsory for us to leave home at least one hour earlier, which means we have to start our day early and end the day one hour late,” said Dhardhan Lye, a marketing professional, who drives from Al Gharafa to the West Bay for work.
Worse, motorists are often caught unawares by authorities.
“We do not know whether a road is closed or not until we reach there. On Wednesday I was going from Al Saad to Sanaya and found one lane of the road closed near the Villaggio mall.”
Echoing similar sentiments, another motorist says certain roads are fully or partially closed without prior notice.
People blame traffic chaos on “bad planning of road work” and say work must be completed fast, on priority.
“Traffic is not something you create and then think how to cope with it. You need to have a strategy ahead. If you know you are closing some roads, and then you have to direct traffic somewhere else, making other roads available,” said a European living near the West Bay.
“The problem is that they started work all together, closing all roads without having alternatives and other options for cars. I guess it’s too late now to think of how to ease traffic in Doha. I am surprised they didn’t raise the question when they decided to close all roads. Speeding up construction work on the roads and open them as soon as possible, I guess, is now the only solution,” she added.
Traffic chaos has also hit taxi drivers who race against time to earn certain amounts of money daily to pay rentals for their vehicles. They say reaching customers on time and earning a sufficient income is a daily challenge.
“Recently it took me two hours to reach Al Saad from the airport,” said Madura, a Karwa taxi driver.
“I could earn only around QR25 for the trip after spending two hours. This QR25 is not an income but a loss for me — for us drivers. Everyday we spend more time on the roads due to traffic jams than on hires.”
Some motorists blame the structure of the roads, the traffic system, and undisciplined drivers for congestions and ensuing accidents.
“Frequent exit and entry is a big problem. Some people don’t keep to their lanes; they frequently change or choose the wrong lane,” said Mohamed Sadiq, an Indian professional.
“Last week my car met with an accident as the driver in front suddenly changed his lane,” he added.