(DENNIS B MALLARI)
All Salik toll violations by subscribed or unsubscribed cars and heavy vehicles until October 31, 2007, have been waived by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).
Mattar Al Tayer, Chairman and CEO of RTA, said that the authority has decided to revoke all fines as a sign of goodwill. He also announced the annulment of fines for all subscribed or unsubscribed motorcyclists with fines for Salik violations starting to be levied from January 1, 2008.
The decision also means that motorists will not have to settle their Salik fines when renewing the registrations of their vehicles. The RTA from now on will allow motorists to verify their fines and settle them, thus avoiding any delays in the registration renewal process.
The decision has gone down well with Salik users, with transport firms calling it a welcome move. “I have a total of Dh1,600 as fines. I am happy that I do not have to pay it,” said Mohammed Bashir, Managing Director of Awadi Bus Rental. With a fleet of 70 buses, Bashir said he spends more than Dh10,000 on toll charges every month.
However, not everyone has welcomed the decision. Zakir Hussain, Managing Director of Deira Oasis, said it is unfair that while some people had to pay the fines, many violators will get a better deal. “We have 70 buses on the road and we shell out close to Dh7,000 every month in toll charges alone. We had to pay the fines for some toll violations because we needed to renew the registrations of some of our vehicles earlier,” said Hussain. According to him, the authorities should have announced the decision earlier so that many more could have enjoyed its benefits.
“I wish I knew about this before. I would have been less prompt in clearing up our Salik fines,” he said.
Al Tayer announced that once the Salik fines are re-imposed from January 1, the RTA will make use of state-of-the-art technology in issuing the fines and managing the fines system and will provide motorists two working days after a violation before imposing the fine. This will give motorists more time to recharge their Salik accounts or subscribe to the service.
Motorists who do not wish to use the toll can use the Business Bay crossing which has 13 lanes and connects the Airport tunnel with Sheikh Rashid and Al Khail roads, Al Maktoum bridge which has been extended to 11 lanes and the Shindagha Tunnel. They can also use the Dubai Crossing Road, which links Sharjah with Abu Dhabi, and the Emirates Road that has been expanded from three to six lanes.
The floating bridge, which links the end of Al Ittihad Street near the City Centre to Al Riyadh Street in Bur Dubai is another option. The floating bridge also helps manage the traffic on Al Maktoum Bridge considerably as it can take up to 6,000 vehicles during rush hour, Al Tayer said.
He also said that the number of vehicle lanes crossing the Dubai Creek has been increased from 19 in 2006 to 40 in 2007 and was expected to reach 48 lanes in 2008.
User-friendly system to ease dealings with RTA
The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has performed a complete review of the Salik toll system before waiving fines accrued to violators, and introducing state-of-the-art technologies to manage fines and payments more efficiently.
According to Mattar Al Tayer: “The RTA has an updated and integrated system to monitor the fines before issuing them to violating subscribers. A special system for complaints has also been introduced. These new procedures reflect the transparency of the RTA in dealing with the public.”
New features of the system will provide additional facilities to subscribers:
- Motorists can now check the validity of their fines by visiting the licence registration centres of the RTA at Al Barsha, Al Qusais and Deira.
- The RTA will provide motorists two working days before imposing a fine, to allow them more time to recharge their accounts or subscribe to Salik.
- The RTA is also undertaking a multi-lingual campaign to highlight the features of Salik and to give an overview of how to subscribe to Salik.
Under Salik, introduced by the RTA in July 2006, motorists have to pay Dh4 each time they pass through a toll gate. A fine of Dh100 is levied on those passing through a toll gate without a Salik tag, while having insufficient credit attracts a fine of Dh50.
This fine will be waived if the credit is replenished within two days.