Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Salik and Thanks for all the Fish

Looking at visitors to this blog (thanks for dropping by: hope you had fun), it has to be said that many are people that have been searching Google for information related to Dubai's Salik toll gate system and have been ending up here instead. So I'd like to apologise.


I have frequently been frivolous and lobbed stones into the whole Salik debate but genuinely have little constructive to say. That's partly because there's so little to say that is constructive. I also have little useful to tell you other than that Dubai's Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) allegedly employs some 15 people in its public relations department and has apparently retained at least one, if not two or three PR agencies.

What they are all doing is a complete mystery to me. And no, it's not sour grapes because my agency’s not down home at the farm milking the RTA cash cow. The lack of information, engagement and transparency regarding the whole Salik congestion charge scheme has been remarkable by any standard.

Sure, the Salik system is working now. Sure, most of the major problems have been ironed out (well, apart from my registration SMS not appearing with my all-important account number without which I can't find out my balance or recharge my card, but we won't let that worry us, will we?). But it's the abiding sour taste that it's all left in people's mouths that I find interesting.

It honestly didn't have to be this way. A smarter, better planned and, above all, more transparent communications campaign could have resulted in a better informed public, more buy-in for the scheme (people tend to buy in to a well-put, sound argument that's been properly communicated) and less residual resentment. The investment, in care, time and money, was infinitesimal compared to the scale of the whole scheme.

I wonder if I’m the only person out there that thinks that the communications element of the whole Salik affair has been handled poorly? Somehow I don't think I am...


Brn said...

No, I don't think that you are wrong. Even by the standards of websites here, the Salik one seems almost willfully unhelpful and uninformative. My favorite part of the plan as a non-Dubai resident is that all the information that has been given implies an in-depth level of knowledge about the geography of Dubai.

I especially enjoy reading that Salik stickers can be purchased at most of the gas stations and bank branches. That information is very helpful to someone like me who only goes to Dubai a few times a year. When I do go, I only go on weekends and I have never needed to buy gas there, so of course I have no idea where any of those stations are.

EyeOnDubai said...

Agree entirely, the advertising and commuications campaign has been cringe-worthy in the extreme. Sadly, it seems sypmtomatic of the whole affair - arrogant managment, incompetent spokespeople, incoherent communications and illogical planning.

While the stated aim of reducing congestion is to be supported, the fact that a) the charge is enforced at times when congestion is not a problem and b) functional alternatives do not yet exist make a mockery of the whole thing. The shambolic nature of the scheme and its untimely introduction are all the arguments most people need to be convinced that it has one purpose and one purpose only, to gather revenues for the RTA. Dick Turpin in a dishdash!

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