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Friday, June 18, 2021

Ashghal advances on plans to boost safety outside of Qatar schools

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Newton International School before/after works.
Newton International School before/after works.

New speed bumps, reduced speed limits and rumble strips have been installed near more than 60 schools in Qatar, Ashghal said.

The measures are part of the School Zone Safety Program, which aims to make it safer for children and their parents to get to and from school.

The public works authority has an ambitious target of upgrading the road conditions of 380 schools across the country.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The plan is part of Qatar’s 10-year National Road Safety Strategy to reduce deaths and serious injuries from traffic accidents.

So far, some 348 schools in 200 separate zones have been designated as a priority for the safety works. They were identified as being in “urgent need” of improvement in a study by the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.

The program is a rolling one, and there is no deadline for completion of these works, an Ashghal spokesperson told Doha News.

Revamped roads

Since the plan launched in 2013, permanent improvements have been made at around 30 schools, while a further 33 have had temporary enhancements pending the completion of final works.

The program involves overhauling the roads surrounding schools to slow traffic, improve flow and make it safer to park and walk.

This includes paving around schools to create crosswalks and build new car parks.

School Zone Safety program
School Zone Safety program

Work also entails installing medians and small roundabouts to better manage traffic flow, building speed bumps and rumble strips to slow traffic and introducing a maximum 30km/hour limit on roads around schools.

Additionally, new warning signs in neighboring streets have gone up and painted road markings for traffic have been added.

Private and independent schools have so far benefited from the measures, which have replaced dusty road sides, broken curbs and roads that were difficult to cross.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.
Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Ahead of the start of the new academic year for many schools, work is underway on roads around 21 more schools. And the reconstruction of around a further 22 is due to start “soon.”

Once complete, this would mean nearly one third (106) of the prioritized schools will have been covered.

Meanwhile, the re-design of the roads around 158 other schools has already been finished. Work on these will begin after approval is obtained, the public works authority said in a statement this week.

Improving safety

Individual schools can request to be included in the national plan. Authorities will then work with the school to create a design that addresses their needs, Ashghal previously said.

In recent years, there have been several traffic incidents outside Qatar schools.

This includes a Doha College primary student being hit by a car while crossing the street in 2014, and the death of a five-year-old girl struck by a vehicle near the Lebanese School in West Bay in late 2009.

Paramedics rush to the accident site outside Doha College West Bay.
Paramedics rush to the accident site outside Doha College West Bay.

Authorities have been grappling with measures to improve safety and reduce Qatar’s accident rate in recent years.

While the overall number of accidents increased in the first half of this year, compared to 2015, there were fewer fatalities.

Still, the number of injuries from traffic accidents rose 7 percent to more than 4,600 over the same period, according to the Ministry of Interior.

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