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Accession Day Special Report: AD Municipality: driving force for progress

posted on 30/07/2001: 1675 views

Abu Dhabi emirate owes much of its modern infrastructure development to the Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department. The department has earned special credit for its tireless efforts in developing the emirate's basic services sectors. Driven by high oil revenues the emirate is pressing a head with its plans for urban and socio-economic development, charting its course confidently to higher growth. By the advent of the new millennium, the emirate has embarked on ambitious plans to achieve sustainable socio-economic development.

The Department has prepared the comprehensive development plan for Abu Dhabi emirate to be put in place by the year 2020. Under the plan, a number of projects will be carried out in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The plan is designed to reduce pressure on the capital by developing and populating outlying areas and meet requirements of the socio-economic expansions and the increase in population.

The first five years of the master plan needs capital investment of Dh55 billion. The plan calls for utilizing modern technologies and creating job opportunities for nationals. To meet the higher growth of population, the plan envisages building of 158,000 housing units by 2020. Greater involvement of the private sector in the plan is welcome especially in housing, commercial, educational and tourist sectors. An impressive infrastructure: modern housing, multi-lane highways, airports, seaports, electricity and water and state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities have been planned and executed in record time. Modern cities, provided with all basic services and amenities, have risen from the heart of the desert. These remarkable achievements could not have been made without the sound policy adopted by President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the direct support of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. The provision of comfortable shelter for UAE nationals has been the focus of the Department's policy on social stability.

Towards this end, the Municipality has demolished old buildings in the city and gave adequate compensations to their owners as part of the emirate master development plan 2020. New townships like the Khalifa (A) and (B) have begun to take shape, while new plots have been distributed to nationals in the new Sheikh Zayed City on Al Ain Highway to help them secure suitable housing. Low-cost houses were distributed to nationals in Rahba, Shahama, Shawamikh, Bahia, Ghabat and other areas. More than 1,500 farms and 1000 plots were also offered to nationals. A number of housing units are currently under construction in various parts of the emirate by the Abu Dhabi Public Works Department and the Municipality is expected to take delivery of them shortly. A total of 700 plots have been levelled and designed in the new Sheikh Zayed city.

The second phase of the project will include the construction of 900 houses and another 900 houses will be built in the third phase. Last year, new 700 farms were allotted to nationals in different parts of the emirate bringing to 15,000 the total number of farms distributed in Al Ajban, Liwa, Rahba, Bahia, East Nahda, Mirfa, Baaya and Sila'. Another 2000 farms were being prepared for distribution at west Samha, Bahia, Sader, Al Ajban and Mirfa. Producing farms have risen to more than 11,000. A number of marketing centres were set up to help farmers sell their products.

The Department approved last year a new project to update the Master Transportation Plan to the year 2020, following completion of most of the major elements of the 1979 Master Transportation Plan, by the Abu Dhabi Transportation and Road Improvement Programme (TRIP). A study area has been defined for the Master Transportation Plan to meet the emirate's future needs. It includes the Abu Dhabi Island and surrounding islands, Al Mafraq, Al Wathba, Baniyas, Khalifa City, Mussafah and Shahama. The vast population growth and expanded development in Abu Dhabi and its surrounding environs, suggest that an updated study of the master plan is needed. The plan will be prepared in two phases, over a period of two years.

The first phase involves the development of a computerised transportation model of Abu Dhabi. This model will be able to forecast traffic levels on all arterial streets and highways throughout the study area. The second phase will involve actual development of a long-range plan. The year 2020 has been established as the horizon year for the full Master Transportation Plan, with interim plans for 2005, 2010 and 2015. The first phase of the study has already begun and will last for 14 months. The consultant is in the process of collecting a large transportation database that includes aspects like roadway traffic counts, inter-section and roundabout turning movement counts, vehicle classification surveys, Geographic Information System (GIS) data on roads and land use etc. When the model is completed, it will use land and socio-economic data to estimate traffic patterns. The result of the model is an estimate of the number of peak period and daily vehicle trips on each arterial street and highway in the study area. The second phase will be performed in the second year of study.

The Abu Dhabi Transportation Model will be used to predict future traffic levels for the years 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2020. Forecasts of population and employment growth will be used as the basis for the future year model estimates. The future year traffic estimates will then be used to determine where new transportation improvements will be needed. A set of policy strategies will also be developed in the second phase in order to provide guidance and assistance in the management of transportation facility development. The travel demand forecasts, together with the policy strategies, will form the basis of the Master Transportation Plan. The plan will also address key transportation issues at a policy level, like parking, pedestrian travel and traffic safety and recommendations will be made for improvement in all of these areas. The master plan will become the blueprint for transportation improvements over the next 20 years. Building of road networks and improvement of the existing roads and highways have been given top priority in the Municipality's development plan in order to make traffic to and from Abu Dhabi more easier.

The Roads Section of the Abu Dhabi Municipality has proceeded with the second phase of improvements of the Corniche Road in the capital. The second phase follows the redevelopment of the western section of the Corniche Road. In the new phase, the Municipality is planning to continue similar improvements from the Arabian Gulf Street up to Mina Zayed. One of the main objectives of the scheme is to relieve the traffic and parking congestion along the existing Corniche Road in the downtown areas.

The Municipality has embarked on a project to provide parking for more than 4,000 vehicles along the Corniche Road to meet requirements of the growing number of visitors to beautiful site. It has also planned a number of pedestrian walkways and recreational facilities along the road as part of the Dh 200 million improvement and beautification project of the Corniche. The project will involve the relocation of the Corniche Road from its current location, to run along the waters edge, on an area of reclaimed land. The reclaimed land will extend up to a maximum of 150 metres from the existing sea wall. The number of traffic lanes will increase to four in each direction.

The land created between the existing Corniche gardens and the new road will be developed into a major recreational and leisure area. A major leisure and cultural park will be established near the Abu Dhabi Hilton Hotel. The Baynouna park will house an agricultural museum for trees and flowers planted in the country. The existing Corniche Road area will then be redeveloped into a local road, along with providing parking facilities for residents, commercial businesses and the general public using the Corniche facilities. The proposed Corniche Road alignment continues from the Sheraton area towards Mina Zayed, along the existing shore line, passing in front of the Corniche Hospital, with various landscaping and parking improvements being provided at both the Sheraton area and the Corniche Hospital. This direct connection will help reduce the congestion at the existing intersections on Salaam Street, created by traffic travelling through various facilities in the Mina Zayed area.

The landscaping and beautification features along the Corniche Road will be similar to those on the western section, but due to the greater pedestrian density in this area, it will be expanded to meet the increased needs. Around 4,000 parking spaces will be created along the length of the improvement.

The beautification of the capital's waterfront, the Corniche, has won an international award for best civil engineering design. The project was carried out by the Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning Department as the first phase of a Dh200 million plan to develop the area. The first phase was completed in December 1998. The award was presented to the Department by the International Road Federation (IRF) during a regional road conference in Miami, Florida. The project that involved construction of four pedestrian underpasses, widening of the road and landscaping was judged the best engineering design among several projects worldwide. The IRF said the project was selected for the 2000 Global Road Achievement Award not only for the best design but also for being a model for development of the road industry in the world. The Municipality has finalised plan for naming 40 streets and roads in the emirate.

The Municipality is currently undertaking 64 services projects worth Dh 274 million. These projects included building a slaughterhouse in Sila', cold stores at Mirfa date processing plant, three marketing centres in Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Khalifa and Al Wathba parks, a fish, meat, fruit and vegetable market at Medinat Zayed and agricultural guidance centres at Khatam, Hamim and Ghiyathi. All these achievements do not only stand today as a living witness for the great work done by the Municipality, but have also drawn admiration of the world which rewarded it with prestigious honours.

The Abu Dhabi Municipality's Food and Environment Control Centre (FECC) has become the first government institution in the Middle East and Africa to obtain the ISO 9002 international quality certificate in 1998. The award covers quality management system in food inspection and testing, veterinary control and environmental inspection and monitoring. The FECC also won the 1998-2000 Arab Town Organisation gold award for its environment-friendly practices and environmental awareness. Abu Dhabi also won the gold award in 1996-1998 for landscaping. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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