Rains cause massive traffic jams in Riyadh

Traffic came to a virtual standstill on many streets.

Traffic came to a virtual standstill on many streets.

Heavy rains poured over Riyadh on Sunday afternoon causing traffic congestion in the main streets, in the heart of the capital. The rains have also flooded the industrial areas on the Al-Kharj Road, while motorists who were using the Airport Highway to the city center were caught in the traffic for more than an hour.

Hameed Mowlana, freelance journalist, who works close to the industrial area, told Arab News that he left his office at 5:30 p.m. and it took him over two hours to reach home due to the density of the traffic. “In my 35 years of stay in the Kingdom, I have never witnessed such a traffic jam due to heavy rains,” he said.

Vinod Menon, a corporate media editor, said the small distance from Exit 8 to Exit 9 on the Ring Road took him over an hour to cross when he left work. “There was unexpected water logging on that road and drivers were caught unaware,” he said, also praising the new “smart road” which he eventually drove through on his way home.

There were no major accidents reported despite the traffic jams in various parts of the city because of the prior warning issued by the traffic department. As a precautionary measure, the Riyadh Traffic Department, led by Brig. Gen. Ali Al-Dubaighi, enforced a comprehensive plan to counter traffic congestion during heavy showers. Drivers were advised to stay indoors during heavy rains and avoid going to parks and places near watercourses during the heavy rains.

According to Al-Dubaighi, the traffic department deployed its officers at major road intersections and in flood-prone areas to regulate the flow of traffic in the capital.

He said arrangements were also made in cooperation with the Riyadh municipality, Ministry of Transport and the Arriyadh Development Authority to ease traffic congestion by guiding vehicles through detours and assisting drivers involved in minor accidents.

The Saudi Red Crescent Authority was on a 24-hour alert during the rains to ferry sick and accident victims to the nearest hospital for treatment.

The control room of the traffic department has been monitoring all areas in the Riyadh region and advised its traffic team to be ready for prompt action. Drivers are advised to report accidents immediately to the traffic department as well as not to drive through water logged streets and avoid underpasses during heavy downpours.

The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment said the rains were due to cold winds coming from the north to the central parts of the Kingdom.

The Civil Defense called on citizens to take extra precaution and follow preventive measures to protect themselves from dangers that might arise from rains and changing weather conditions. The authorities advised people to avoid approaching electric transmission boxes, wires and trees. They are also urged to avoid using their cell phones at times of lightning and thunder to avoid electric shocks.


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