Traffic snarls choke Jeddah despite new tunnels and flyovers
Even after the implementation of several multimillion road projects, including underpasses and overpasses, the main arteries and streets of Jeddah city are still suffocating with heavy traffic congestion. Jeddah’s traffic snarls are no longer limited to weekends but extended to all seven days of the week.
The traffic jams have become intense after the reopening of schools and universities two weeks ago. The demolition of slums and random neighborhoods in southern and central Jeddah has also contributed to the traffic congestion as tens of thousands of residents moved from these neighborhoods to the eastern and northern parts of the city. No road or street in Jeddah is free from traffic congestion as vehicles of all sizes and types are lined up over long distances, and the boredom of waiting is interrupted only by car horns.
Saud Al-Muwallad, a motorist, told Okaz/Saudi Gazette that Jeddah city should now carry the name the ‘City of Crowds’, as driving through the city has become an adventure and nightmare. “We spend long hours on the roads hoping to reach schools and our workplaces, and we have to wait for a long time in the midst of noise pollution,” he said.
Echoing the same view, Bandar Al-Dakhil, another resident of the city, said that Jeddah, the ‘Bride of the Red Sea,’ has turned into a city of traffic suffocation. He complained that the traffic police personnel are not visible in many places to ease the traffic jams.
Most of the roads are in a state of suffocation, and the expressway between Jeddah and Makkah has turned into a slow track with heavy traffic congestion has become routine. The new road projects have not been instrumental in facilitating the smooth flow of vehicles. Even after the recent opening of the underpass at the intersection of Prince Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Street (Tahlia) and Madinah Road, there is no easing of the traffic jam along Tahlia as queues of vehicles extend from Haramain Expressway in east Jeddah to the Madinah Road in the west.
Similar is the case with most of the roads and streets in the eastern neighborhoods of Tayseer, Samer, and Hamdaniya, as well as Prince Majed Street (Sabeen), Palestine Street, King Fahd Road (Sitteen), Prince Miteb Street (Arbaeen), Saud Al-Faisal Road, and Corniche Road, in addition to roads reaching the entrances and exits of North Obhur.
Speaking to Okaz/Saudi Gazette, retired Maj. Gen. Misfir Al-Juaid, a security expert, confirmed that the tunnel and bridge projects did not succeed in easing the traffic jams. The movement of thousands of families from the southern and central neighborhoods of Jeddah to its northern and eastern districts has also resulted in creating endless traffic jams, he pointed out.
“I do not think that any traffic solutions may succeed in facilitating the traffic flow of vehicles. Hence I suggest changing the daily working hours for companies and government departments to 8 or 9 am and thus reduce the pressure of vehicles on the roads during peak school traffic hours,” he said while pointing out that at present residents in the eastern and northern neighborhoods suffer greatly for their daily movements.
On his part, retired Maj. Gen. Salem Al-Matrafi attributed several factors to the lingering traffic congestion in the city. These included the inadequate public bus transport system and the movement of hundreds of residents from the southern and central parts of Jeddah to the eastern and northern parts of the city. “Hence it is necessary to quickly implement the public transport network, reduce the use of private cars, prevent the movement of trucks within the city, and reduce the size of taxis with relying mostly on guided taxis,” he said, adding, “this must also be accompanied by the expansion of existing roads, construction of new roads, and the diversion of trucks and heavy equipment tracks to out of the city or allocating alternative roads for them.”