Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Salik Debate Rages as 4WD Shortcut Blocked

Shock horror! Gulf News today reports widespread negative public voice regarding Dubai's proposed Salik road toll system. Salik (see earlier post) aims to charge users of two of Dubai's busiest roads a little over a dollar each time they pass the RFID scanner. Residents, expatriate and local alike, are more than a little concerned about how the scheme will affect traffic flows as people try and avoid the toll, according to GN's unusually critical report.

Reader polls carried out by GN reflect an overwhelming 'no' vote to the whole scheme. While you'd expect this from people who are about to have to pay money they don't want to pay, over 70% don't think the toll will reduce congestion on the tolled roads although over 70% also said they wouldn't use the tolled roads. And 49% said they won't buy the Salik tags.


The scheme goes live on the 1st July, so that'll be all very interesting.

Meanwhile my journey to work today was enlivened by the fact that some blockhead has decided to dump a load of huge concrete blocks across the desert tracks that an increasing number of 4WD owners have been using as a short cut to work between Sharjah and Dubai. Why anyone would think that there was any harm or damage being caused by a few intrepid souls slipping over the short stretch of deeply rural sand dunes that separate the Sharjah back road from the Dubai back road is a mystery. Another mystery is why anyone thought that you could block the desert by dumping concrete blocks across a few tracks.

But the consequences this morning were remarkable, to say the least. There must have been at least fifty 4WD vehicles in various states of bogged down out there, ranging from just starting to bog through stuck in a ditch that they hadn't noticed to utterly bogged down and hopelessly stuck. There were people running around, digging and towing other cars out, bouncing trucks flying over sandy humps, their grinding wheels throwing up clouds of sand over everyone on foot and all manner of offroaders trying to circumnavigate the blocked tracks. A massive, fantastic fairground of Hollywood road movie style vehicular insanity. Think Smoky and the Bandit mixed with the Cannonball Run and Lawrence of Arabia and you're starting to get the picture.

I picked my way through it all, as well as past the silly, redundant blocks, hardly able to focus on my path through as I watched the madness all around me, open mouthed and in a state of blissful wonderment.

What you need, chaps, is a Salik station in the desert. That'll sort 'em out...

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