Monday, 21 February 2011

NEW SALIK GATES? ARGH!

Salik Tag on windshieldImage via WikipediaGulf News today reports that a 'study' by the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority has led to them proposing two new Salik gates - one on Al Ittihad Road (AKA 'Murder Mile') and one 'in Al Ghusais' says the paper, being a tad coy about the precise location. We can only presume that 'in Al Ghusais' means 'on Beirut Street', the second major arterial road into Dubai from Sharjah. (although Damascus and 24th Streets get pretty tasty in rush hour, too)


I have to confess to finding GN's story that this proposal comes after extensive studies somewhat hard to swallow. When Salik was first 'on the anvil' to use one of GN's more memorable phrases, any study would surely have included these two routes - you don't need a study to show that Al Ittihad Road is the most congested road in the Northern Emirates and has been such for the 22-odd years I've been knocking around this place. Every morning a snarling snake of metal belches fumes and induces coronaries from the Sharjah border to Dubai, a pattern reversed every evening. In fact, the Ittihad Road traffic is actually a great deal easier these days since we lost so many people to the joys of the downturn and the bursting of the Great Dubai Property Bubble. It's even reasonably clear outside the major rush hour periods.

Similarly, Beirut Street gets pretty lousy in the rush hours but isn't too bad outside them. I've always been fond of Beirut street - it used to be the sandy shortcut I took to get to Dubai and avoid Ittihad.

Salik gates on Ittihad and Beirut will undoubtedly force traffic out to the Emirates Road (E311) and the Dubai Bypass Road (E611) where Sharjah residents will be burning three times the fuel to make the same journey. So much for the RTA's 'green' lalala...

The Emirates Road is already notorious in rush hour. In the morning, traffic backs up to the Sharjah/Dhaid road intersection, in the evenings you're starting to stop at Sonapour, the labour camp area. It's horrible - jostling, lane-swapping traffic, heavy lorries and cars vying for that little advantage, that little selfish creep ahead of the next guy's bumper. The culprit is the infamous National Paints roundabout into Sharjah where the Emirates Road narrows to three lanes from Dubai's rather more generous seven lane stretch and where the side roads introduce a tiny, but telling, clog factor with joining traffic. I do often wonder if being strongly associated with shitty traffic jams has been good, bad or neutral for the National Paints brand...

I have long had fun posting about Salik (some posts passim linked here), which has been a constant joy to me since it was first announced. The RTA, which had 'no immediate plans' to expand the scheme back in 2008 has in fact already expanded the original gates - this will be the second 'expansion' of the scheme. The pretence that Salik is about traffic management is one I find interesting given the obvious and immediate consequences of this next move (to completely stuff up the Emirates Road), especially coming as traffic volumes and congestion have reduced considerably from the heady heights of 2008. Laughably we're told by the RTA that this is because Salik has succeeded, rather than being because something like 20% of the population has nipped off home to avoid being banged up by banks bent on basking in boodle.

When examinig the motivation for expanding Salik, it's perhaps interesting to hark back to the words of 'traffic expert' Mattar Al Tayer, the RTA's Chairman, in 2007 when he predicted that Salik would one day raise revenues of Dhs600 million per year. According to GN today, it's making Dhs800 million, smashing its original target and providing, IMHO, a very real incentive to expand the scheme once again.

This move will also raise the perennial question of quite how much each journey's going to cost us. If one is to travel from Sharjah to Dubai Internet City, for instance, an additional gate would bring the current cost of the trip in tolls alone to Dhs12 (the two gates on the Sheikh Zayed Road charge as one if you pass through them immediately after the Garhoud or Maktoum Bridge gates). Will this be the case, or will we see the 'multi-gate' discount applied to the relief of drivers?

Then again, the whole proposal may just not go ahead. Ittihad Road was an obvious target for phase one of Salik and was passed over for some reason. We can only wait and see what happens this time...
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15 comments:

GlabrousDiver said...

"the two gates on the Sheikh Zayed Road charge as one if you pass through them immediately after the Garhoud or Maktoum Bridge gates"

No they don't. Try driving through the MoE and Dubai Mall gates in rapid succession and then check your bill on-line. you'll be charged for both.

Salik - the Dick Turpin of Dubai.

Aabo0 said...

I'm hoping that their reason for slapping AlIttihad Road with Salik and forcing traffic to Emirates Road is to nudge Sharjah into obliterating that annoying and very dangerous roundabout.
An intersection instead of the roundabout would work much better.

James O'Hearn said...

Beirut and Damascus don't make much sense for a gate. They are regular streets, and a gate would severely disrupt businesses and traffic patterns here.

It's probably more likely going to be at the entrance to the Airport Tunnel. The first step on the road to getting Business Bay "Saliked" up.

Sarah Walton said...

why don't you all move to Jumeira, Dahhhhlings. No tolls, no traffic, no smells, no pollution, just lots of Labradors and manicures.

alexander... said...

GD: My info is the two SZR gates charge as one if you've just passed through Garhoud or Maktoum. I don't check the balances, I have to confess, just keep topping the damn thing up.

James, Beirut leads into the airport tunnel and yes, that's precisely where I'd see 'em slapping the gate.

Sarah. Silly.

Dave said...

Great blog. I think you have the nail on the head from all angles. I will read this blog over and over again if ever I miss the UAE....

GlabrousDiver said...

Like you I just kept topping the damn thing up... then I noticed that my "AED 8 remaining" had suddenly disappeared after a traffic-free run through both gates.
Foolishly I now avoid Salik, probably at the expense of worse fuel consumption and longer journeys… I’m just stubborn like that :-)
Of course adding Salik to the Business Bay crossing would really rain on my picnic – it’s the best way to cross the creek and a regular route for me.
A tax by any other name would smell as bad - to misquote Mr. Wobblestick.

James O'Hearn said...

Alexander...

Ach, you're right. I was confusing Baghdad and Beirut...

I could see the gate going up on the overpass, just pass the police station.

It's like they want everyone to use Emirate Road.

susanthecoach said...

I regularly pass through the MOE, Burj Khalifa and Garhoud gates in succession and they charge for each gate despite the initial promise that they wouldn't.

hemlock said...

independent of whether maktoum/garhoud gates are used, salik is charged once if both safa/barsha gates are crossed (going in the same direction) within sixty minutes.

so heading from dubai mall to marina you’re charged AED 4 and AED 4 on the return trip.

GlabrousDiver said...

@Hemlock - I'm afraid you're incorrect. I've been charged AED8 for a one way journey through both gates and it took a lot less than 60 minutes. Or do you only get charged once if it's EXACTLY 60 minutes? :-)

How convenient of the RTA to make such a mistake... in their own favour.

RTA... the "T" does stand for "Tax" doesn't it?

Cheers GD.

hemlock said...

GD: here's a screenshot of the last 30 days. apparently it takes 6 minutes (@120kmph) between two gates.

AED 4 might not be worth the effort, but if you asked, RTA would have to refund them :) cheers.

GlabrousDiver said...

@Hemlock - my apologies it must just be me :-)

Either that or you're an RTA mole planted in the comments section of this Blog :-)

Seriously I'm pleased to see that not everyone gets charged... that means it's just incompetence not malicious overcharging.

All the best GD.

Distraught said...

I just moved back to Dubai from Chicago a few weeks ago. When I was leaving Salik was about to be implemented.

Last week on wednesday, I topped of my salik balance of 20 aed with a aed 50 card, giving me a balance of 70 aed.

I receive a text today, saying I have only aed 30 left. That means i must have passed through salik gates 10 times in 5 days. I can only recall 4 times.

Bloody RTA thieves.

Emjay said...

Gulf News had a 'clarification' in the print edition today. Can't see the same online though...

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