Sunday, July 06, 2008

Wot MOT?

The Goatmobile is four years old. Consequently I spent half of the morning down at the Tasjeel Auto Village in Sharjah having the registration done. I dropped off the vehicle at the entrance and then retired with my paperwork to air-conditioned comfort to await the verdict and pay the fees.

I wonder why Billy Whizz and his colleagues can't be employed at normal commercial garages? These guys work at such a blistering pace that the car inspection is over in a matter of seconds. I watched my inspector put the Goatmobile up on to a ramp and then, armed with a torch, he inspected all 17 Steering and Suspension items, the chassis, the exhaust system, brake hoses and cables all in under ten seconds. Front and rear lights were flashed so quickly I missed that part of the test, and the exhaust analyser didn't even get taken out of its box. I don't think it's possible to check the brakes on a 4WD vehicle with the brake-testing machine supplied and installed specifically for use in Sharjah.

I suppose I shouldn't complain after getting a Pass certificate. What concerns me, however, is that this level of stringence is inevitably going to let defective vehicles back onto the public roads for a further year. I watched a Nissan Maxima sail through the test with only one functional brake light. Non-functional lights are such an obvious fuzz magnet too, or would be if the said fuzz were appropriately magnetic.

Oh, but according to the form, "Tasjeel will not accept responsibility for any unseen damages on the vehicle". I see: "Although we're the licensing and inspecting authority, it's not our fault if a mechanically unsound car lumbers forth on to the Emirates Road."

In true "Sledgehammer to crack a nut" style, the preferred solution is not to undertake thorough inspections, but to scrap cars over an arbitrary age.

Anyway, armed with a Pass certificate - and Dh100 lighter - I presented at the next desk. Problem. I had my insurance certificate with 13 months insurance to the precise day, which is a new rule in Sharjah, but no passport and visa copy. It was my fault. I should have known better, having lived in the Gulf for a dozen years, than to turn up without such a fundamental piece of paper. I got someone at work to fax me a copy. There's a dedicated fax machine for punters to receive copies of missing paperwork, so clearly this is not an uncommon occurrence. I waited for fifteen minutes, watching miscellaneous forms, permits, passports and visas vomit forth from the fax machine and get taken away. When it was my turn, I was selected to pay the Dh1 White Face Tax. Still, it's cheaper than travelling across town to retrieve my passport.

Then I had to pay my fine. Please note the singular: I've had a relatively lawful year. Observant readers may recall that I did get popped by a camera in Dubai last October, but I'd already paid that fine online and it had disappeared from the record. Now a further Dh220 lighter for making the only illegal U turn in Sharjah (I got busted by an unmarked police car that was itself illegally parked...) and Dh125 for the new registration card, everything was done for another year. I am pleased to note that there is no longer a need to pay an additional Dh10 for a fire extinguisher inspection certificate.

The current cost in Rip-Off Britain for the equivalent annual rigmarole is £50.35 for the MOT and £300 Vehicle Excise Duty (at Band G for 291g/km CO2) for the equivalent of an environmentally-disastrous, CO2 emitting, gas-guzzling, polar-bear-drowning Goatmobile. At the current exchange rate that's around Dh2550, which really does make Dh226 look like a bargain.



Gnomad said...

Being about to return to the UK after four years in the Gulf, I am really not looking forward to the costs of motoring :(

Or the ridiculously high costs of practically everything else as well.

There are, however, certain professional and personal benefits for yours truly and the missus for a stay in the UK, although we do not envisage it being a permanent stay by any means.

El Casareño Inglés said...

Compared to Spain: ITV (MOT): 30 euro; road tax: 35 euro (also for and environmentally unfriendly 4x4 Samurai). All cars get charged the same here regardless of type. The variation in car tax only changes according to which municipality you live in (Casares is one of the cheapest).

If going back to the UK, I'll be running a bicycle - bit of a problem with 4 kids and the shopping!

Restless in Dubai said...

"Dh1 White Face Tax"... Funny, this happens to me ALL the time... god..


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