Sunday, June 10, 2007

'Slick?' No. 'Sleek?' No. Its SALIK!

I see the overhead gantries for Dubai's new toll road have been erected near Garhoud bridge. I also note that the Road and Transport Authority has helpfully erected 'free exit' signs in the corporate orange background to assist all the toll-dodgers. There's plenty of warning for anyone coming from Trade Centre Roundabout that there's a toll gate ahead. This is just as well; it'll cost Dh100 to go through the gate without a smart SALIK tag, rising to Dh200 and Dh 400 for second and third offences.

Coming from the Sharjah side there is rather less warning. The last advertised free exit is towards Festival City. There is an exit along Riyadh Road, between the Grand Hyatt and Wonderland that lies before the toll gate. It seemed to me that the obvious means to avoid the Garhoud toll gate when coming from Sharjah is to turn right along Riyadh Road, left at the new traffic lights, drive past Healthcare City and turn left at the other new traffic lights before getting back on Sheikh Rashid Road just past Wafi City. Actually, it's possible to turn off at the same exit and sneak past the Salik gate on the service road in front of the Grand Hyatt. Preumably until Plod blocks the route, that is.

Herein, of course, lies the problem. If I can think of this ratrun, so can everyone else.

Edited on 19th June to add: I note that RTA has noticed the ratrun and installed an additional SALIK toll gate on the Wonderland exit. So the last free exit when coming from Sharjah is indeed towards Festival City. This is an alarming precedent. If RTA can install toll gates over one exit, it's only a matter of time before gates appear over all the others.

My prediction is similar to Keefieboy's, except that I don't see only the side roads getting gridlocked.

There will be so much traffic heading for the last free exit that there will be miles and miles of tailback on the main road as four or more lanes of traffic attempt to insert themselves into a maximum of two lanes. There will be precisely zero incentive to buy a Salik card. Those Smart ALIKs who did so will find themselves stuck for hours in the same traffic jam as the toll-dodgers.

And then the police, in an attempt to free the gridlock, will force drivers to drive through the toll gate. How popular do you suppose that will be? Being ordered by the Plod to break the law and then being forced to pay fines after doing so!

I predict strongly worded letters to the editors of the local newspapers and an awful lot of extremely annoyed motorists.


Anonymous said...

Well there is a new toll gantry that is being installed as we speak at the Hyatt/Healthcare exit from Garhoud Bridge. So the Festival City/ Rashidiya exit is the last exit...So long lines from Garhoud all the way to Sharjah. Good Luck everyone.

Mme Cyn said...

Thank god my daily commute doesn't take me anywhere near the bridges and, once I leave Karama, I won't have to deal with the toll dodgers going over Maktoum either.

No more Hard Rock Cafe or Ibn Batutta Mall for me, though. I wonder whether business will drop off in those places, or if Dubai will just be divided into distinct zones -- the Jebel Ali/Gardens/ Meadows etc folks never going to MotE anymore, and the rest of us staying this side of the gate. Hmmm. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

My bet is getting a new car registered will get expensive. The Metro will not be completed on time due to construction delays. By that time toll gates will be all over to cover the cost of roads & infrastructure.
Just keep Paying!!!!

secretdubai said...

The chaos will be a sweet joy to most of us. Vindication of the utter folly of this ill-considered scheme.

i*maginate said...


bonk said...

There'll also be more fun with all the drivers stopping just before the Salik gate and backing up to the last exit ... all the way over Garhood bridge perhaps?


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