The unveiling of an extensive plan to modernise the transportation system in Sharjah was announced on November 22 in Sharjah. The plan is to eventually establish 19 bus service routes, nine service stations and support 80,000 passengers per day.
Sharjah Public Transport Corporation (SPTC) and KGL Passenger Transport Services penned the deal. The SPTC is a government-owned company established in 2002 as the sole authority for public transportation in the emirate. It awarded KGL an eight-year franchise and anticipates routes beginning in 2008.
KGL is a quickly growing Kuwait-based transportation company whose services extend throughout the greater Middle East region. It provides all forms of public and private, land and sea transportation logistics, from military operations to limousine services. In January 2007, KGL Ports International, a subsidiary of KGL Transportation, o,andksdsdirgfpened a new container terminal at Saqr Port in Ras Al Khaimah (RAK).
"We will launch at the end of the first quarter of 2008 with three main routes, to be followed by the completion of the rest of the routes by the end of the first year," said Fahad Al Awadhi, the general manager of KGL, at the contract-signing event. "The plan will be integrated in a phased manner that accommodates the nature of the roads, with the purpose of raising efficiency so as to achieve the maximum benefits to traffic control and ease of movement.
"This project aims at operating a wide bus transportation network in Sharjah that will cope with the emirate's large growth in population over the past few years. It seeks to reduce the traffic jams and develop a common transportation service for everyone to use."
Along with trying to take some of the burden off the existing roads, Sharjah has been expanding its roads. Sharjah is the only emirate that shares a border with each of its sister emirates and in March 2006 the government unveiled a Dh2.1bn ($572m road infrastructure project that should reduce bottlenecks in Sharjah and Dubai.
New Wadi Dafta-Shayss and the Shayss-Khorfakkan roads will be established in order to ease the traffic on the eastern side of the emirate. Meanwhile, an additional road to Al Sajaa and the Umm Al Quwain border is expected to reduce traffic congestion and act as a link back to the Emirates Road, the main North-South passage, and then function as a bypass route to Al Hamriyah. There are also plans to build a Fujairah-Dubai road, which will join the Sharjah Road as an additional measure to ease traffic problems.
Although these roads will reduce jams for some of Sharjah's borders, the crossing between Sharjah and Dubai remains an issue. Because Sharjah acts as both an industrial centre in its own right and as a residential area for workers who have been priced out of Dubai's real estate market and choose instead to commute from nearby, the Sheikh Zayed Highway between Dubai and Sharjah is often at a standstill.
Dubai's road, bridge and metro expansions are helping and with the infrastructure development plan anticipating the government spending Dh487m ($132m) on the expansion of King Abdul Aziz Road, an alternative to the Sheikh Zayed Highway to be finished in 2008, traffic congestion should subside. However, Sharjah's public transport move will be welcomed by commuters as well, as simply expanding the existing roadways is not expected to end the traffic woes.
Engineer Nasser Mahfouz, head of the road planning and transportation section at the directorate of road planning and survey in Sharjah said on October 28, "We need to have a comprehensive public transport system, including buses and a metro system."
The Sharjah Public Transport Corporation in 2006 planned on making a seamless connection to the Dubai metro station once it eventually found the right company to supply the public transportation, and on November 22 with the signing of the contract with KLG, Sharjah took a step towards resolving some of the traffic congestion problems within the emirate and around its periphery.