Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Salik Day Approaches

Much has been written in the press and in the blogs (Grumpy Goat, Half Man Half Beer, Secret Dubai) about the impending launch (and hopefully rapid sinking) of 'Salik', the imbecilic road toll scheme that is due to start operating near Garhoud Bridge and Mall of the Emirates on July 1st. There have been public spats between the Police and the RTA about it. Gulf News in the last few days has reported the unanimously unfavourable opinions of many Dubai residents. In the keep-your-head-down-and-don't-rock-the-boat culture of Dubai, this is not far from open rebellion.

I enjoyed this comment:

Salah Bu Farousha, Traffic Public Prosecutor, said he supports Salik, but has reservations.
"It is a trial and we should not make premature conclusions. If people do not cooperate, it will be a problem. I am sure RTA has approved this project after thorough studies. Recently traffic police were asked if they are ready in case of traffic congestions and they said yes they are ready," he said.

Do I detect a note of irony in the above? And this is the first time I've heard the scheme described as a trial. Nice one Salah - hopefully the RTA will adopt this terminology so they won't be too embarrassed when either Sheikh Mohammed or the sheer unworkability of Salik forces them to postpone the damn thing.

Not wishing to gloat or anything, but I will be out of Dubai about a week after the chaos mayhem bedlam scheme starts. But I do feel that every word of justification uttered by the TRA on this subject is disingenuous tosh. The object of this scheme is nothing more or less than to extract more money from drivers. If it were otherwise then the scheme would only operate at peak times, rather than the proposed 24 hours a day. There are zero viable transport alternatives available. Having recently tried to use the 8A bus 'service' from the Gardens to Media City, I have found the timetabling to be a cynical work of fiction. If you use a taxi, you'll have to pay the toll. The Metro is still two years away.

The saddest thing about this disaster-in-the-making is the blinkered attitude of RTA management. It will cause much more congestion at peak time as thousands upon thousands of cars try to get off SZR before going under a toll gantry. Once you've passed the toll gate, you will be able to hurtle along at 120 kph. But before you get to that you will be stuck in the queue of people trying to get off the road because they do not want to pay the toll - at Mall of the Emirates this will mean SEVEN lanes of traffic trying to organise itself into TWO lanes for the last free exit. There will be chaos like you've never seen before - and we've all seen some chaos on Dubai's roads. Many roads in Bur Dubai which are already overloaded, will grind to a complete halt. Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah Road and Al Sufouh Road will all be jammed solid. Emirates Road and Al Khail Road are already over capacity.

And yet the TRA will claim a great success because the stretches of road immediately before and after the toll gates will show a huge reduction in traffic.

If this is indeed about money, why not slap a few hundred dirhams on the annual vehicle registration fee? I don't think people actually mind paying a bit of money extra if they know it helps to improve the infrastructure. But to have to pay extra money to join a scheme that is ABSOLUTELY GUARANTEED TO INCREASE CONGESTION is madness, pure and simple.

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Blogger BuJ said...

well-said. especially the 24hr application, taxi charging, and crappy alternatives. it merely displaces congestion away from the toll gates towards non tolled areas. as if dubai is only garhoud bridge or MoE.

so it's a trial eh? hehehe
nice one!

so are most marriages.

3:53 am  
Blogger Alexander said...

And you haven't considered the extra fun to be had with a financial back end linked to a swathe of RFID scanners tied to an SMS gateway!!! The IT system SNAFU potential alone is glorious.

Roll on Salik day, I say!!! :)

9:35 am  
Blogger Girish said...

SALIK is the most absurd thing to hit the pockets of commuters in Dubai. You have little choice and have to pay and still take the traffic. No suggestions from public or any authority is welcome as this RTA has just dawned on Dubai and have found a great solution called SALIK for all traffic problems of Dubai. RTA is not ready to give alternate routes(which are already congested), nor are they willing to wait till Metro is ready, not are they ready to talk to Sharjah authorities to find a solution to the common problem. Well done RTA. RAT should also find a place to hide their faces or find new jobs when this SALIK faisl msierably.

3:10 pm  
Blogger Rajesh said...

Why make life more complicated than it already is- especially in Dubai ? If the govt plans to develop infrastructure at the cost of the expats(as locals are very few compared to the expats) - so be it as we have no alternate choice. But an easier alternative would be to collect a nominal flat fee at the time of registering the cars from Dubai residents and permit them to use the garhood bridge. Tolls Cards to beissued while registering. Other viable options for residents of other emirates have to be discussed and agreed.

The new bridge was believed to bring relief but the contrary is to happen. Do we need experts and super humans to understand the consequences once the Toll is in place. Is minimal common sense not enough?

With the few and congested roads leading to the alternate bridge which is bound to be congested, who on earth is expecting the congestion to ease ? I assume the consequence is aware to those concerned but would want to cash on the inconvienence !

3:46 pm  
Blogger KARTHIK said...

Disaster is what i see on 1/07/07.Better take your brkfast,lunch and dinner in ur car u know u can never imagine whether ull reach ur home in ShJ or Ajman .
A perfect plan at absolutely wrong date .Give som alternatives and then introduce Salik No probs .and to ask if RTA has purely introduced this plan to reduce congestion then y the hell are hte charging the 2 wheelers and that also for 24 Hrs .I ve got a car and am going to use a cycle on 01/07/07 .Cant even dream abt the situation anyways TRA best of Luck

4:55 pm  
Blogger Shahzad said...

I think RTA is full of Shit. I have spend all my life in Dubai as i am born here, i have never seen the roads soo congested since RTA has taken over. Now the SALIK crap. So some people think it is a trial, hahahaha. I am sure people working in RTA will get free SALIK cards so they dont have to pay for it. But they want to controll & reduse the traffice so they want people to pay as they drive. Well RTA, is this the best you can do. I am sure RTA must be thinking some other ways to empty our pocket. Nice going RTA & thanks to Dubai government for encouraging RTA to increase more traffice.

7:50 pm  
Blogger Sanjeeva said...

what happens to the many people who suffer from incontinence and overactive bladders when they are stuck in the fiasco....???????????????

11:53 am  
Blogger Seabee said...

A Freudian slip Keefieboy, when you said uttered by the TRA on this subject

The three most dreaded letters. T, R & A. It doesn't matter which order you put them in, RTA, TRA - they're the two organisations giving the most hindrance to Dubai's business community - on which the whole vision of Dubai's future depends.

3:26 pm  
Blogger Cliff said...

I presume parts of SZR will become a sea of white Toyota Landcruisers, courtesy of free toll cards for locals and the financial means to not give a damm about the Dhs100 fines...

11:41 pm  
Blogger Jef said...

It all about the money , not about the traffic. Mr. RTA says 600M AED per year. and more more from fines ... want us to use the transportation..then Mr. RTA why dont you try it. or you are having fun driving your Range Rover. go and stay in the bus stop and tell me how u feel.... i am sure it is not salik !!

3:12 am  
Blogger alun said...

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news but I've heard that by 2009, 120 toll gates will be operational in Dubai. (This has come from an official source spoken unofficially of course!)
Saying that Salik is a trial is poppycock....unless of course you view a trial as something that is trying.

Tri-al definitions:
4. A state of pain or anguish that tests patience, endurance, or belief: "the fiery trial through which we pass" Abraham Lincoln.
5. A trying, troublesome, or annoying person or thing: The child was a trial to his parents.

4:31 pm  

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