2007/06/26

One more reason to be glad that I don't live in Dubai

The UAE University hosted a meeting of several regional libraries last winter, and during one meal we sat around comparing traffic stories. Hearing horror stories of 4 km commutes taking a half-hour or more reminded me again how lucky we are to be here in Al Ain instead of there (for the record: distance to work for me - about 8 km; time to work, when traffic is at its worst - 11 minutes).

Reading about the implementation of Salik just gives me another reason to feel this way. My favorite part of the story: 'RTA officials said motorists will receive an SMS after they puchase [sic] a tag which will include the account number and pin. "Even if you do not receive it shortly, the tag is automatically activated."'

I especially love the fact that this quote is apparently anonymous. Also, what do you reckon the chances are that those who do not get an SMS confirmation and their tag does not automatically activate will not be able to get out of the fine that will be imposed?

1 comment:

kochumanavalan said...

Those SMS confirmations don't seem to have been going out to anyone at all, going by what I read and see. The fine itself is something the punters won't have to worry about, since the date they purchased the tag (sticker, card, call it what you will) should be on record.

Far more worrying for Dubai's road users is not so much the technology, which is outsourced and ought to work as designed, but rather the actual results on the ground once the tolls commence on July 1. We often see tailbacks on SZR itself when too many motorists try to take any one of the exits off the highway (such as at Interchange 2, towards Al Khail/Nad As'Sheba). There wouldn't be much point in paying a toll to use a road that's congestion-free after a toll gate, but totally clogged just before the toll gate.

Up to now, there's never been any, and I mean ANY, congestion on SZR at the 4th Interchange (MOE area) towards Dubai unless there was an accident of some sort on the road; I don't see how the toll is going to make the slightest difference there, other than reducing the number of vehicles from that point on. Any positive effects of such a reduction will be felt only after the 2nd interchange, and as one approaches the Trade Centre. Unfortunately, by that point, those avoiding the toll would have had a chance to filter back onto SZR, pushing the numbers back up, and adding to the marvellous little merry-go-round. Fat lot of good the tolls will be, eh?

Most people expect that Al Khail Road, Emirates Road, Al Wasl Road and Jumeirah Beach Road, along with the inner roads connecting them, will also enter a stop-motion mode, as we've already experienced whenever there's a blockage on SZR or Al Khail.

Now that sounds pessimistic, doesn't it? Funny thing is, every time Dubai announces a grand scheme, every one pipes up saying it's headed for total disaster, yet it turns out to be a spectacular success.

So what will Salik be?

Traffic heaven or traffic hell? In less than 3 days we should know the answer.