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Accession Day 2003 Feature: Abu Dhabi Municipality - Engine of Abu Dhabi's development

posted on 30/07/2003: 1665 views

The Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department has made tremendous achievements in various fields, including construction, housing, industry, commerce, roads and bridges and public services. The achievements were made possible through the sound directives of President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, who is also the Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. They were also made possible through the follow up of Sheikh Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, Abu Dhabi Ruler's Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department.

The Department has completed preparing its comprehensive development plan for the city of Abu Dhabi. The vision 2020 plan, which comprises various development and housing projects, was drawn with the cooperation of the United Nations Development Programme, UNDP. The plan seeks to lay down a long-term regional socio-economic strategy as part of a major development plan for Abu Dhabi, the Western Region, as well as the Abu Dhabi islands and coastal areas. The development plan took into serious consideration scientific approach to all major projects, basic environmental requirements and public amenities to serve the growing population. In the case of building planning, the Department has set up new residential areas to meet the demand of the growing population.

The Department has also distributed hundreds of new plots of land to UAE nationals for housing purposes. Notable among these residential areas where housing units and plots of lands were distributed to UAE nationals are the Khalifa City A and B, situated on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai road between the Mafraq Hospital and the Abu Dhabi International Airport, the New Medinat Zayed on the Al Ain road before the Mafraq roundabout near Mussafah.

The Department has also distributed this year a large number of low-cost housing units to UAE nationals in various areas, including Al Rahba, Shahama, Shawamekh, Bahia, Al Ghabat, Al Heiliyya and other areas. In addition, the Department has distributed to UAE nationals a large number of farmlands and housing plots. Major housing projects currently under construction in various parts of the emirate include a 2,800 housing units in Heiliyya and Bahia, in addition to another 100-villa project in Dalma. All are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

On receiving the project from the Private Department in 2001, the Town Planning Department quickly embarked on the first phase, which consists of 2,300 housing units. With total coordination of the Ministry of Education and Youth, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Awqaf, a number of schools, mosques and health centres were earmarked. In all, 30 mosques, police stations, civil defence posts and markets were built, in addition to the inner and outer roads, bridges which are nearing completion, while water and electricity network, sewerage and telephone systems will soon be put in place.

The next phase will see to the building of low cost houses, which will push the total number of the housing units to 6,000 units. The Department has completed various road, highway and bridge projects to ease traffic flow. These include expansion works on a number of roads and bridges and the construction of crossroads in some parts of the city and interchanges at various points on the highways linking Abu Dhabi to Dubai, Al Ain and other areas. Notable among the interchanges is the one at Umm Al Nar.

The Department has also embarked on the second phase of the Corniche road, aimed at improving the road. The project, which include the shifting of the present road to about 150 metres inward from the current water defence wall, by reclaiming the aforementioned area, beginning from the Gulf road crossroad to the Zayed Port area, has already won the approval of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The four-lane dual road will have various forms of decoration works and recreation facilities along its six-kilometre length.

The Western portion of the Corniche road, which was completed in 1998, has added some beauty and elegance to the city. It has also boosted the city's transport and civil infrastructures, making significant contribution to the city's winning of international accolades and two international awards. The Eastern Corniche road project, which will include bridges and interchanges, tunnels and crossroads at various vantage points, will increase the city's capacity to absorb more motor traffic, ensure free traffic flow and triple the car-parking capacity along that side of the Corniche by adding about 3,500 more car parking lots to the current number.

A landmark structure would be constructed to replace the present Clock Tower near the Corniche. The new tower, which would be 70 metres high, will consist of information centre, cafeteria, stores and other recreational outlets. It will also be surrounded with a beautiful garden. The design for the landmark structure would be made open for international competition. The Department has also embarked on a number of road projects after getting approval from the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.

These include the construction of a bridge over the water canal in the Officers' Town area, a tunnel project in the same area, the expansion of the Raha Beach road into a four-lane dual road, the expansion of the Mussafah road and construction of a tunnel in the centre of the Abu Dhabi city from the Sheikh Zayed II Road to the Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Road. Sixteen multi-storey parking lots are currently under construction in various parts of Abu Dhabi city. Several underground car parking places have been commissioned in various parts of Madinat Zayed and Abu Dhabi.

In its continuous efforts to ensure the safety of pedestrians, the municipality has also undertaken the construction of 16 more subways in various parts of Abu Dhabi to bring the total of such facility in the city to 22 on completion of the 16 subways. Sheikh Mohammed bin Butti Al Hamed, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department some few months ago opened the subway on the Al Salam street in Abu Dhabi. Other areas where the Department has made tremendous achievements are the sewerage and infrastructure sectors.

The Department's achievements in these areas has created a healthy environment free from any form of pollution and disease. The Department has so far spent Dh4.268billion on 200 sewerage projects. It has earmarked Dh935million for another 26 similar projects in the future. The Department has completed preparing a comprehensive transportation plan for Abu Dhabi in line with its Vision 2020 plan. This is to meet the City's growing population and the challenges posed by urban expansion.

The plan, which will be under review annually, includes a total review of its programme, objectives and strategy on annual basis to ensure regular improvement of the transportation system, the traffic safety level for vehicles and pedestrians and the provision of appropriate transportation system for the various segments of the society, in addition to improving the level of integration between planning the judicious use of land and the transportation system so as to minimise the negative effect of the transportation system on the environment.

The plan also focuses on the encouraging the use of mass transport, organises the transportation of goods, the movement of truck and other heavy vehicles and the proper organisation of the transportation system. A proposed upper ring-road public transport system in the business centre of Abu Dhabi is expected to comprise 12 two-trailer trains, which will ply 19-kilometre rail line in a period of 30 minutes, stopping at 19 stations in it round trip. Take-offs from the main station for every round trip will be at every 3 to 5 minutes interval.

Another inner road project scheduled for the 2002 to 2005 is the construction of an internal ring road which will connect Mina Zayed to Mussafah through Umm Al Nar to serve heavy trucks. Bridges will also be built to connect Abu Dhabi with the islands of Hadhirat, Lulu, Musheireb and Sadiyaat. This will lead to the quick development of the islands in the near future The Department will next year embark on the reconstruction of the Old Central Market in the heart of the city. A modern market which shall be a landmark in the city will replace the old market. An approved model of the new market, which shall occupy an area of about 36,000 square metres, is already in hand.

The huge market will consist of 196 stores on an area of about 23 square metres, in place of the currently called "Old market", while 45 stores will be built on the 12,500 square metres of the land on which the market currently known as "the new market", occupies. There will also be car parking spaces for 200 cars. Another project embarked upon by the Department is the building of a Dh25 million Central Laboratory for the testing and inspection of building materials. The lab will be ready for use by the year-end. The building structure, which covers an area of 900 square metres, will include specialised sections for the inspection of building materials and a training centre for the training of inspectors and experts to handle the job.

The Department has also made a giant stride in the area of executing projects on sewerage system and infrastructure aimed at creating a healthy environment free from diseases. So far the Department has spent Dhs4.268 billion on the completed 200 sewerage projects. It also plans to spend Dh 935 million on another 26 projects in the near future. In addition, the Public Works Department is currently undertaking five other projects at a total cost of Dh46 million, while other 11 projects at a total cost of Dh22 million given on contract by the road section of the Department, are currently at advanced stages.

Areas that benefited from the sewerage projects are Falah, Shamekha, Heiliyya and northern and Southern Shawamekh. This is to provide these new areas with the necessary comprehensive services required for any modern town. The Vegetable and Fruit Wholesale Market at the free port area in Abu Dhabi is another spot that is witnessing increasing activities. Goods from various countries of the Middle East, the Indian sub-continent and other parts of the world continue to flood the market. Last year the market received more than 300 tonnes of fruits and vegetables from Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Palestine, Western Europe countries, Africa, Asia, Iran, India, Pakistan and member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

This came as a result of the big boost given by the Municipality to UAE nationals to enter into economic, commercial, industrial and vocational activities, as the Municipality issued thousands of business permits to them after introducing computer system in its permit issuing process to save time and efforts.

The Department generated last year about Dh 51 million from industrial land and property rent, abattoirs, car parking, public parks and gardens, and market tolls. It is now introducing e-archives system to improve its documentation system and quick referencing, and to add some secrecy and confidentiality to the system, in addition to protection of these documents from destruction and the Department has also introduced a scholarship system, called "UAE Nationals' Training Programme”. The programme offers UAE nationals free education, training and job opportunities to work in the area of Abu Dhabi roads and bridges maintenance.

This programme is being implemented in collaboration with the Higher Committee on Road and Bridges Maintenance and the Higher Colleges of Technology. The Department has launched a massive campaign to attract secondary school leavers to seize this opportunity to benefit from the programme.

In the field of agriculture and afforestation, the Department has executed in the recent years a large number of projects, including new agriculture projects, landscape greening, tree planting, fodder production, date palm tree planting, in addition to the execution of a number of irrigation projects, the drilling of water wells and the building of water reservoirs, while the public relations section of the department embarked upon a serious public awareness campaign by issuing a number of booklets and pamphlets for distribution among farmers and other concerned persons.

On agriculture experiments and research, the Department's Research Lab has conducted 3,779 research and analysis, including 634 water samples, 398 soil samples, 262 fertiliser samples, 388 plant diseases samples, 142 plants analysis samples, 1,886 tissue planting samples, 31 analysis on chromatography and 69 seed samples. The Agriculture Section of the Department has also completed 43 public parks and gardens, in addition to the Al Wathba Public Garden and the Khalifa Recreation Park, which is at the Old Airport area. The Park, which costs Dh200 million, is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

A report from the Department shows that the Agriculture Section has also set up 11,477 farms in recent years in areas like Liwa, Medinat Zayed, Ghiyathi, Bahia, Delma, Ba'eyya, Marfa, Khatam, Rahba, Ajban, Nahda and Semeih The Department has also constructed several water reservoirs, installed 240 water pumps for irrigation activities, 7 generators in various farming areas in the Western region. It has also implemented a computerised irrigation network in Wadi Rayoum, installed 300 water pumps in the Kurun Al Eish area, four water pumps with three electricity generator plants in the Al Sharea Resort and completed the renovation of 12 fountains in Abu Dhabi, while the construction of two new fountains in the Shahama public park and five in Abu Dhabi have been completed.

The Department has also successfully implemented its afforestation programme by setting up forests and game reserves and taking proper care of those projects. It has also made significant achievements in the expansion of its greenbelt projects to combat desertification. In so doing, the Department has in recent years planted trees along sides major roads like the Madinat Zayed/ Abu Dhabi road, the Ghiyathi/Bida Mutawa'a road the 140- kilometre long Hamim/Abu Dhabi road, to name just a few. The Forestry Section of the Department has, since 1996, embarked on a project of fencing an area of about 200 square kilometres to set up 51 game reserves in the Western region. These include 20 game reserves in Madinat Zayed district, 11 in Al Wathba and 20 in Ghayathi. This has brought a significant increase in the number of wild animals in these protectorates.

On general health and environmental protection, the Department has made tremendous achievements. Notable among them is the setting up of the Food and Environment Control Centre, which plays a vital role of detecting air pollution and radiation, in addition to food control. The Department has completed a number of projects which have contributed immensely in minimising environmental pollution, in addition to regular inspection of stores and shops dealing with food items to check the validity of those items.

The Department has set up a fertiliser producing plant in an effort to protect the environment through the use of healthy and pollution-free fertiliser. It has recently completed the plant's branch in Al Hatam, to deal with the organic wastes, particularly farm wastes, by recycling them into organic fertiliser. The Department has won a number of awards from international and Arab organisations, in recognition and appreciation of its efforts.

On transportation, the Department has linked all the various parts of the emirate with a modern transport network to provide internal and external transport services to the public. 300 buses ply the network, transporting about 12 million passengers a year to their various destinations at very affordable fares. The Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department continues to make concerted efforts to modernise Abu Dhabi to meet the comprehensive development programme envisaged in the vision 2020 plan, which seeks to lay down a long term regional strategy for social, economic and constructional development. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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