24 June, 2007

SALIK is stupid.

And not because of the cost or the imaginary congestion that some of its nay-sayers claim it will create.

It's stupid because the people who designed it would get an F in just about any urban planning or public administration class on the planet. In my eyes, its most glaring deficiencies are:
1) There is no mechanism for people without a SALIK sticker to pay the toll. This is contrary to just about every toll system ever devised. Sure, it makes sense to charge a higher toll to people without a sticker who slow things down by driving through an actual physical gate, but it's completely unacceptable for the government to make it mandatory to purchase a sticker. What if I only drive through once every six weeks? Why should I pay for some stupid sticker for Dubai tolls if I live in Sharjah? And what happens if Abu Dhabi or Sharjah decide to have toll roads? Will my SALIK sticker work for the whole country or will I be covering my windshield with extraneous stickers for toll roads I rarely use?

2) Isn't it ill advised to have a toll system that charges two ways? I've spent some time on the island of Manhattan, which has an absolutely HUGE amount of high density daily commuter traffic. Why is it that the government there charges people to get into New York City, but not to leave it? It's a simple answer really -- they don't want traffic congestion to build up inside the city.

3) Finally, it's a question of accountability. There's been a lot of talk about the 600 million AED that will be raised annually by this toll and how it will help the community. How exactly is that going to occur? Who determines what gets spent on what? What checks and balances are in place to insure that this money will be spent responsibly?

In a representative democracy the government would be accountable to the people with regard to the monies it raises from taxes and tariffs. If enough people felt the government has failed them in this respect, then the government is voted out of office. What happens if this money (which comes out of our pockets) is spent recklessly? What redress under the law can people who live in an absolute monarchy seek?
I don't have a problem with toll roads. I think it's a smart idea for the city to generate revenue with which to maintain its roads. I think it would be an even better idea to ELECT a civilian commission that would have OVERSIGHT on how that money was spent.

14 comments:

nick said...

you, bobo!

Everything you say makes perfect sense. I agree 100 percent -
IF this was a "representative democracy". Which it isn't, so what's the point dreaming or talking about 'what if'. You are pissing up the wrong tree.

ad 1) In reality you will be able to use SZR between Garhoud bridge and Mall of the Emirates without sticker and without paying as long as you don't pass the toll gates. Noone will control whether all cars have stickers - how would they?! To my knowledge there are five police patrol cars in Dubai, and two of them are permanently stationed at Azar cafeteria on Al Wasl road.

ad 2) "Isn't it ill advised to have a toll system that charges two ways?"
Actually not. Salik as I understand it is not a 'destination charge' like the congestion charge in e.g. Central London, i.e. a fee for the privilege of taking your car into the centre of town (which you don't have to because there is plenty of public transport, and which cou can avoid because you don't have to pass through the centre for any reason).
Salik is a charge for passing through a particular bottle neck, a road toll in the very sense of the word, and the modern equivalent to highway robbery. There's nothing you get in return for this toll. Period. You pay to use that particluar stretch of road. It is more like road toll on European motorways (only that there you can purchase multiple-use stickers at discount, pre-paid or post-charged, or pay cash for single once-in a while use)

ad 3)"Finally, it's a question of accountability."
Keep dreaming. You came to Dubai yesterday?

Anonymous said...

The people who are implementing this project are traffic experts unlike people such as yourself who keep on bitching about it even they know nothing about traffic management. This is something the rulers/authorities want to do, and they can do whatever they want since its there home.
Salik makes perfect sense and they should implement it in other areas too. This is just another cost of living in Dubai, if someone can't afford it then he/she should be wise enough to figure out what to do, perhaps something to do with sitting in a plane and going back.

Anonymous said...

The 70% of the population should pay, they're causing all this congestion and accidents.

nick said...

@ Anon 11:35 & 12:06
(You are probably one and the same dipstick)

"The people who are implementing this project are traffic experts.."

The police certainly don't think so:
Dubai Police about Salik

Having said that, nobody denies that the RTA are experts in making money.
-------------------

"The 70% of the population should pay, they're causing all this congestion and accidents."

That's which 70% exactly?
The 70% perhaps who work their socks off so that you don't have to?
The 70% perhaps who manage to fend for themselves in this country without affirmative action helping them to get a leg up?

Anonymous said...

Nick

"Salik is a charge for passing through a particular bottle neck, a road toll in the very sense of the word, and the modern equivalent to highway robbery."

Agreed, one pays to pass through the bottle neck why on earth should they charge when the cars are leaving this bottle neck. Perhaps they do not want the cars to leave the bottle neck.

Keefieboy said...

@ Nick

Noone will control whether all cars have stickers - how would they?!

I'm not entirely sure about this, bu there is what looks like an array of cameras on the gantry - one for each lane. Obviously it would be impossible for actual real-life cops to do this job - apart from the fact that the hate the RTA as much as we do and they have not been consulted on the implementation of this nonsense.

nick said...

Keefie,

That's not what I meant. Don't try to pass under the toll gate unless you have a sticker - you'll be fined.
What I meant is that you can safely drive e.g. from Deira via Maktoum bridge and join SZR before Trade centre R/A all the way to Interchange 4 before MOE without having to pay / having even a sticker.
Juts make sure you know the last exits before the gates.

fellow atheist said...

The gates are clearly marked. This is not the issue. The problem that most people have been pointing out is that this in itself is probably going to be the reason why Salik will fail (if its objective is to ease congestion). This is because everyone will be trying to get out from that last exit.. and that will create some insane traffic.

Now will this actually happen, it's very likely. I guess we'll all have to see.

i, Bobo said...

You Nick!

I think you're not getting my point -- on almost all toll roads in Europe and North America the motorist is given the opportunity to either wait in line and pay at a gate or to have some type of IR device in their vehicle which pays the toll virtually. The idea that everyone in the UAE should buy such a device to occasionally drive on a small stretch of highway in Dubai is somewhat absurd -- the motorist should be provided with another option without being fined.

SALIK is in fact a "destination charge" whether we like it or not because it's primary function is to decrease the congestion of traffic within a specific area. From all avenues of approach, no less -- if that's not a destination charge, then what is?

@Anonymous 11:35
"This is just another cost of living in Dubai, if someone can't afford it then he/she should be wise enough to figure out what to do, perhaps something to do with sitting in a plane and going back."

Why is it that every time an expatriate resident doesn't like something, the typical response is to say "if you don't like it here, go home?"

I do like it here, which is why I get frustrated when half baked plans that wouldn't pass muster in 3/4 of the world are foisted upon us as experiments.

And the money thing? Get over yourself -- we're all sitting around writing blog entries on our two thousand dollar laptops. The cost to you and me is not the financial issue that begs discussion.

Look, I got my sticker last week (and like everyone else, I have yet to get a confirmation SMS) and I reiterate my final point: I don't have a problem with toll roads. I just have a problem with half baked plans and the lemmings that follow them.

nick said...

You, bobo!

I was getting your point:
"...toll on European motorways (only that there you can purchase multiple-use stickers at discount, pre-paid or post-charged, or pay cash for single once-in a while use)"
I agree with you that this is exactly what should be possible under Salik, too.

I believe that Salik is not a 'destination charge' because you are able to access a destination within the Salik stretch without having to pay.
What is it then?
Simple, it's a road toll, not a congestion charge. It's a revenue generator for RTA, nothing more, nothing less. It only fails on its own account because they mistakenly called it a congestion charge.
It's primarily targeted at two groups of communters: The Sharjah commuter using Garhoud Bridge (NB: Garhoud, DFC and Rashidiya residents have Business Bay crossing and Al Khaleej road as available alternatives), and the Jebel Ali worker. Both groups actually have a viable alternative: Emirates Road.

Anonymous said...

The talk in town among expatriates is that they can't afford such costs anymore, and most of them are planning to leave. Its a matter of time and suddenly everyone will leave.

rosh said...

"The talk in town among expatriates is that they can't afford such costs anymore, and most of them are planning to leave. Its a matter of time and suddenly everyone will leave. "

So you know this "talk" has been happening for the last 30 years!

Anonymous said...

wait an see what is coming ahead. start packing your bags everyone. Time to move to another country.

Poochie said...

Salik:
I a living in the Greens. First day of Salik and nothing moved. My way to work increased by 1 hour!!! per way! i am shocked. The Greens is totally gridlocked, the WHOLE DAY. I am happy to pay for free roads, unfortunately my way to work takes me NOT through the congestion zone (as per Salik definition) but through the REAL congestion zone which is now all around the greens. Getting in and out was already very bad during rush hour, now it is a nightmare.

Sad, very sad.

TP

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