A year after the launch of Salik in Dubai, the RTA is going to open two more toll gates. But, the big question still remains whether Salik has really helped in solving the traffic problems in the emirate.
While the majority of drivers say ‘it hasn’t’, some including the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) believe the system has had very positive effects.
Salik was launched on July 1 2007 at the Al Barsha Toll gate near the Mall of the Emirates and the Al Garhoud Toll Gate at the Garhoud Bridge.
The deduction of Dh 4 whenever a vechicles passes through a gate has been criticised time and again by a majority who claim that while the system has put extra financial burden on them, the traffic situation has not changed a bit.
The reason for this is the growing population of the emirate added with the increasing number of cars. According to the statistics, the number of registered vehicles in Dubai has risen to 848,357, of which 802,376 are light vehicles. In 2006, the number of registered vehicles was 739,357.
Dubai is expected to have 5.3 million registered vehicles by 2020 when the emirate’s population is likely to rise to 5.25 million. The population, which stood at 1.2 million in 2005, reached 1.45 million in 2007. By 2015, it will be 3.3 million.
The statistics also show that Dubai presently has 541 cars per thousand people, more than any other city in the world. The corresponding figure in Singapore is 111 cars, Moscow 250, London 345 and New York 444 cars per thousand people.
With the second phase of Salik set for launch next month, motorists still continue to remain confused about a lot of things, particularly the working of the system. The introduction of two more toll gates — at Maktoum Bridge and near the Safa Interchange on Shaikh Zayed Road — has further compounded their perplexity.
During the announcement of the second phase of Salik, Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of RTA, had said the first phase had reduced the congestion on the toll roads by 25 per cent and the duration of journey on Shaikh Zayed Road had come down by 50 per cent and that the average speed along the road had increased from 40 to 80 km/hour.
“The study showed high traffic load on Al Maktoum Bridge, which caused traffic congestion on some internal roads in Deira. It also pointed to congestion at Al Barsha and Al Sofouh due to the traffic load caused by motorists crowding these areas to avoid passing the Al Barsha toll gate. The study proved the necessity to launch a new phase of Salik on the congested roads and the need to redistribute traffic on major roads and creek crossings especially after launching the new Garhoud Bridge,” he said.
“During the peak hours when Maktoum Bridge witnesses congestion, the parallel roads and bridges like Business Bay Crossing, Garhoud Bridge and Emirates Road are occupied only up to 70 per cent of their respective capacities. Some motorists avoid passing through the Al Barsha toll gate by using internal roads which cause congestions at Al Barsha and Al Sofouh,” the top official said.
“Salik is a part of the integrated solutions that aim at reducing traffic. These solutions comprise road and infrastructure projects, metro rail systems, public transport and marine transport projects, apart from several traffic policies that encourage the use of public transport to reduce traffic jam in Dubai. Salik is an effective tool to reduce the usage of private cars as well,” he said.
Officials at the RTA have said while most of the queries have been clarified, some others will be clarified soon before the launch of the second phase of Salik.
Issa Al Dossari, CEO of the Public Transport Agency at the RTA commented that Salik had decreased the number of car trips. “There was a time when people used to move up and down Shaikh Zayed Road many a times. Now with Salik, the number of trips has decreased. Salik has made a difference,” he said.