The capital city’s road network, which is world-class in most aspects, can sometimes leave motorists perplexed because of inadequate signage.
The problem is acute in some newly laid stretches like Bausher, Azaiba and Al Khuwair. Lack of appropriate traffic signs increases the risk of road accidents. Though the problem can easily be rectified, it is proving to be roadblock in the government’s drive to increase road safety.
As per road safety norms, motorists should be alerted about a road deviation at least 100 metres ahead. The sign should clearly state that there is a bifurcation in the road that allows motorists to get onto the slip road from the main road, It will give the driver ample reaction time to slow down and negotiate the turn safely. It also gives vehicles at the rear enough time to slow down.
However, this guideline is not followed in many parts of the city. Often the motorists are going too fast and only notice the turning just as they are about to pass it, by which time it is usually too late to do anything about it except to drive straight ahead and do a U-turn from the next roundabout, which can be some distance away.
Another scenario which puts a lot of motorists at risk is when there is bumper-to-bumper traffic going along at a good speed. The motorist in front suddenly brakes to negotiate the bifurcation.
“This is where many accidents take place. The motorists at the back are taken unawares, not knowing why the car in front is suddenly slowing down, sometimes even without indicators,” says Abdul Majeed, a sales official who works for a private firm in Ruwi.
“At other times the motorist in front realises the risk involved in making the turn because of the cars at the back, so he decides to drive straight ahead,” he pointed out.
Engineer Moosa Salim Al Saqri, Director of Road Maintenance, in the Directorate General of Projects, an independent department within the Muscat Municipality head office in Darsait, said lack of proper road signs is a hazard to public safety. The municipality would act swiftly since it is a matter of genuine concern, he added.
According to the Al Saqri, sometimes shortage of maintenance personnel directly affects the working of the department. “But whenever we get to know about a problem our redressal response is almost always immediate.
He added: “Personnel in our department are usually recruited on a contractual basis for two years. But road maintenance is an ongoing and continuous process. It also requires a great deal of planning and coordination with other departments for the smooth execution of the tasks on hand.”