Sharjah roads more congested but safer

New car registrations in Sharjah soar by 25 per cent. Road congestion might be up, but fatalities are down.

SHARJAH // A sharp increase in the number of cars in Sharjah is leading to serious congestion in the emirate, police say. Col Arif al Shamsi, the head of the Sharjah Police Traffic Department, said police were doing everything they could to ease the flow of traffic, but that the increase in vehicles presented a huge challenge.

According to official statistics, 89,467 cars were registered in the emirate in the first half of the year. In total, 30,663 new cars were registered in the emirate in the first six months of this year, compared to 24,479 during the same period in 2007. In 2006, the number stood at 21,064. Over the same period, the department issued 13,023 driving licences. Col Shamsi attributed the increases to rapid development. "There has been a great increase in the economy, business, investment and more residents in the emirate this year than any other year."

Drivers from outside the emirate were adding to the congestion. "Our surveys have shown that most of the cars that are using the emirates roads are licensed by other emirates, not Sharjah." He expects things to improve when the Ministry of Interior's ban on the transfer of ownership of cars 10 years and older goes into effect in January. In Sharjah alone, the new rule is expected to force 20,000 vehicles off the roads.

Despite the increase in traffic, there has been a reduction in road violations. In the first half of this year, 347,718 breaches were registered, compared to 506,346 for the same period last year, with Sharjah City accounting for 60 per cent of the infringements. Failure to follow traffic signals was the most common offence, with 23,121 incidents. Dangerous overtaking followed, with 12,768 violations.

There were 346 accidents in the first half of the year, killing 87 and injuring 479 people. Among the dead were 19 Emiratis, 25 Pakistanis and 14 Indians. In the corresponding period in 2007, there were 461 accidents that left 99 people dead and 733 others injured.

Published: August 10, 2008 04:00 AM