Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Signs of the times

The commute from The Crumbling Villa into Sharjah used to be relatively painless, and even now certainly beats the Sharjah Schlepp past Al Mulla Plaza every morning. There are, however, a couple of hot spots caused by queues of cars on Sharjah Ring Road. The thing is, in order to turn right, loads of drivers seem to think that it’s perfectly OK to queue in the left-hand lane of the motorway and push in at the end of the diverge taper. From time to time, Plod stations himself at the diverge splitter, but this causes the four-lane traffic jam to merge into a single lane about 300m further upstream, just far enough away that Plod can’t read the number plates.

Thus Muggins, who does not wish to turn off, nevertheless gets stuck behind those who do.

And then at the north end of the ring road the situation is reversed. The population of Sharjah converges on Safeer Mall and makes a U-turn to head south and thence into Dubai. Both lanes are packed solid, plus two lanes of traffic on the service road, to say nothing (or at least, nothing polite) of the occasional imbecile trying to drive the wrong way up the service road.

Up until recently, I used a rat-run around the back of Safeer Mall, along with the small number of Sharjah-bound commuters. Then one day, I noticed new burqa-clad traffic signs on part of the rat-run. Inferring from the shapes under the bin liners that a one-way street was about to appear, I found an alternative route to work.

Sure enough, a few days later the signs were unveiled, and one of Sharjah’s constabulary was waiting at the junction with Al Ittihad Road to dish out tickets and Black Points to those who hadn’t noticed or had chosen to ignore the new road signs.

And, in keeping with local custom and practice, after a week or so the novelty wore off. There is now no police presence, and this pointless and malicious one-way street is being ignored. Once the signs disappear I’ll be back on that route.

Perhaps drivers simply don’t understand the traffic signs. This is very odd; as an educational feature the Sharjah Police website offers a multiple-choice traffic sign test that includes the following gems which are entirely appropriate for the Middle East.

In other news, I am at a loss to understand the reasoning behind the Sharjah Police recent decision to regulate the evening commuters’ merge on to the Emirates Road. I presume that somewhere there was a decision. My guess is it that came out of the same Good Ideas Lab that had National Paints Roundabout shackled with road cones apparently solely to see what would happen.

For several days last week the southbound carriageway of Sharjah Ring Road was jammed solid. Half an hour to travel 500m, except for those who used the breakdown lane with impunity or shoved in at the last moment. And at the front of the queue? A police car parked on the Emirates Road merge taper and a uniformed officer standing on the roadside waving vaguely at the traffic.

I am pleased to note that the novelty of this has also worn off. For the past couple of evenings there has been no police presence on Sharjah Ring Road, and no traffic jams either.



Vampire said...

hahahah....i hope you are enjoying your commute everyday...keep writing.

Seabee said...

I love the way organisations here simply lift stuff from international websites with absolutely no clue as to what it all means.

Mme Cyn said...

Note how "Policeman" sounds like "Paramecium". Coincidence? I think not.

The Yellow Box Of Doom said...

Don't you just love the way that whenever hte poloice in this country arrive to "help" a situation they invariably cause it.

I have frequently rang in to the old "send a T" traffic helplines to report and accident and ended the cal with "but don't worry, the police arn't there yet so its not too bad"


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