Residents getting away early for their Eid break were faced with gridlocked traffic near the airport this morning, forcing many to ditch their rides and walk – trailing their luggage – to avoid missing their flights.
While some residents reported clearer roads elsewhere in Doha, it seems the worst of the traffic was focused on the airport area this morning, as thousands of people fly in and out of Doha to make the most of school holidays and the Eid Al Adha break.
Al Jazeera English weather presenter Steff Gaulter was one of those stuck in traffic near the airport arrivals terminal this morning:
If u’re picking anyone up from the airport, leave a few extra hours. Speed 100metres in 10 mins. pic.twitter.com/GQHRmtO4LK— Steff Gaulter (@WeatherSteff)
Twitter user Mohammed Al-Jufairi took this photo of the intersection nearest the airport’s departures terminal:
Airport signal. People from all 4 signals are blocking the intersection. Funny stuff. pic.twitter.com/71JxT2RylC— Mohammed Al-Jufairi (@Halawala)
— Tim Craxton (@TimCraxton)
In addition to congestion caused by the sheer volume of traffic, some residents are reporting road closures and diversions in the area, adding to their woes:
— أبن علي بك الكبير (@Ahmed_Ali_Saad)
@Toryscott We weren’t allowed to turn left from the Frasier signal to WBay. And taking a UTurn at the flyover signal is a epic task.— Arun (@avkumar)
Travelers weren’t the only ones caught up in traffic this morning. Many residents reporting to work were also delayed – including some employees of the Sharq Village & Spa, who chose to walk rather than risk being late for work:
In an email to Doha News this morning, Sharq employee Benigno Cervantes said:
“We, the Ladies and gentlemen of Sharq Village & Spa, had to do early exercise due to the heavy traffic built up from Ras Abu Aboud heading to Corniche.
We need to pull over from our service bus. To reach our hotel on time, need to walk instead of waiting the traffic to move.”
Meanwhile, many residents have spotted helicopters flying over traffic hotspots in recent weeks.
These are part of newly-introduced “helicopter patrols,” designed to help traffic police manage congestion by identifying problem areas. Speaking to Al Sharq newspaper last month, Brigadier Mohamed Saad al-Kharji, head of the Traffic Department, said:
“We will have the helicopter between six and eight in the morning to check traffic flow in the capital Doha.
“The officer in the helicopter will liaise with the land patrols and inform them about the status of traffic in the various areas and thus help them move in quickly to address congestions.”
Airport arrivals parking to open
Today marks the beginning of an intensely busy period for Doha International Airport. As the Hajj season gets under way and Eid holidays approach, officials estimate that some 1 million passengers will travel through its doors this month.
To help accommodate the increase in traffic, the DIA is partly opening a new temporary parking structure at the Arrivals terminal, which will provide some 200 additional spaces.
The new carpark was built because much of the DIA’s existing parking lot was appropriated for Doha Metro purposes earlier this year, leading to many traffic jams in and around the arrivals terminal over the past few months.
The terminal itself was initially erected as a temporary structure to ease congestion at the DIA, ahead of the much-delayed opening of the high-tech, enormous Hamad International Airport. After two missed deadlines in 2013, the HIA is now slated to open early next year.
In a statement, the DIA said it is also adding extra parking payment machines and opening additional counters at check-in and immigration. Additionally, some 200 extra Karwa taxis are being made available for use from the arrivals terminal.
But passengers should still plan ahead when traveling, DIA spokesman Abdulaziz Al-Mass said:
“The public should nevertheless make certain allowances to arrive early and to anticipate increased traffic in terms of people and vehicles as it will no doubt be a very busy period.”
It seems that even advance planning was not enough to spare drivers in the airport area this morning:
— Kareem Sharawi (@aksharawi)
Are you going out of town this month? Thoughts?