Construction is coming to another busy Doha road this month, as Qatar Rail advances on plans to roll out a new Al Sadd St. metro station.
Shopkeepers and restauranteurs said they have received notices from the rail company that they will be closing different sections of Al Sadd over the next three years, starting Oct. 15.
Many have expressed dismay about the plans, saying the works would cost them a number of customers and millions of riyals in business.
The construction will mean the removal of the service road and parking adjacent to a section of shops and restaurants at the western end of Al Saad St., near the junction with Jawan Street.
While some work in the area is already underway and hoardings have already been erected near the road, the latest closures have yet to take effect.
Under the plans, the hoardings would be moved to stand just over one meter from the shop fronts, making it impossible for vehicles to park in the area, or even drive up to drop off customers. A short passage will remain for pedestrians to access the stores.
According to the details of the Qatar Rail letter, the program of construction for the station was due to begin on Oct. 10, with deep excavation works in the area scheduled to start on May 7, 2015.
Al Saad station will be one of 11 stations on Doha Metro’s Gold Line, which will run West-East from Villaggio mall, under Al Waab street, along Al Saad street and eventually through to the northern end of the former Doha airport’s runway.
In April, a consortium led by Greek-based Aktor won a $4.4 billion contract for the line’s design and build, with a completion date set for August 2018.
Other lines that would cover the 37 stations open to passenger traffic by 2019 include Hamad International Airport, the Msheireb Downtown Doha project, Education City, West Bay and Lusail, where passengers can transfer to light-rail vehicles that will connect up to Al Khor.
Loss of business
Once one of the busiest commercial streets in the city, Al Sadd St. is home to many decades-old shops and eateries that are regarded by many residents as Doha institutions.
One of them is Al Khaima Arabic restaurant, which has been operating in the same location for nearly 30 years.
Speaking to Doha News yesterday, the general manager, who asked not to be named, said he feared for the future of the eatery:
“We are a very popular restaurant – we have nearly 1,100 customers a day, on average, and lots of regulars who have known us for years.
But when these works start, there will be no parking, nowhere for people even to be dropped off. It will be like a highway outside our door. How can our customers get to us – by parachute or helicopter, and land on the roof?”
The manager estimated that the upcoming diversions would cost him up to QR4 million a year in lost business, particularly from customers who used the take-away service.
When asked how he felt about the construction, he added:
“I am very sad, not only for my business or income but for my customers. I hope some will still come to us, although they will have to park very far away and walk. But some will not come back – they will go to other restaurants that are easier to get to.
We will have to adapt. Maybe we will do more deliveries, maybe we will try to open another branch, although that is very expensive.”
Further down the street, Al Khan Textile tailors has also been operating for nearly 30 years.
Speaking to Doha News about the upcoming diversions, Manager Abdul Rashid said:
“If this street really does get closed like they say, then this will be a big problem for us. How will my customers get to me?
“We have been here a long time – we are a famous shop in Doha and we have many VIP customers. They will not want to park and walk in the dust to reach here.”
Also yesterday, the owner of a menswear store who asked not to be named said he was conferring with shop keepers in the area to discuss a way forward that would enable the businesses in the street to keep operating.
“We are taking some steps. Maybe we can reach a compromise, although I am not totally hopeful,” he told Doha News.
The latest planned works are yet another blow to businesses in the surrounding area, many of which are already struggling as Ashghal continues its overhaul of C-Ring Road.
The public works authority has taken steps to mitigate the impact on businesses on the stretch of C-ring between Radisson Blu (Ramada) signal and Al Mana Towers by providing temporary parking and pedestrian walkways.
But business owners told Doha News that the construction on the busy road had put off many of their customers, with footfall down to just a couple of customers on a Thursday afternoon for one Arabic sweet shop by Al Mana Towers.