(KHAMEIS AL HEFAITY)
Land transport companies said the ban on lorries and trailers on highways and the limited hours during which they are allowed to operate is hurting their business.
The firms said the slowdown is having a knock-on effect on businesses that rely on transport companies.
Factors such as the imposition of the road toll system, a ban on lorries on Sheikh Zayed Road and other main thoroughfares and the limited number of lanes and hours open to lorries on Emirates and Al Khail roads has more than doubled the average driving time in an industry where time is money.
Saed Al Awadi, CEO, Dubai Export Development Corporation, said authorities are aware of the problem and are working on solutions such as building truck-only roads from the new airport and a cargo line for the Metro rail project.
In a letter submitted to the Roads and Transport Authority and DP World, members of the Land Transport Association (LTA) said the emirate’s reputation as a major trading and transport hub was at risk due to the growing delays.
Khalid Abdullah Humaid Messina, managing director of Nashwan Land Transport and member of the LTA, wrote: “The land transport industry is facing a grave situation due to the ban and the difficulty in getting drivers to meet deadlines. Due to restrictions, we get very limited time to drive our vehicles during the day. During the little permitted time, all the trucks and trailers from hundreds of transport companies rush on to the roads and to ports all at the same time.”
Since 2004, lorries weighing more than 2.5 tonnes have been banned on all roads during peak hours from 6.30am to 8.30am, 1pm to 3pm and from 5.30pm to 8pm. On the knock-on effects of the ban, Ibrahim Nimir, a member of the LTA, said: “Containers have to be at the port eight hours before the arrival of a vessel. If there is a delay, the ship will not accept the container.
Trucks and trailers compete with each to complete their assignments within the limited period, which creates heavy traffic jams and accidents on roads. All the vehicles from Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Umm Al Quwain, Ajman, Sharjah and Dubai need to reach the same ports within the permitted time using the single lane on Emirates Road. The problem has worsened after the introduction of Salik and the start of the Port Rashid closure process.
Land transport delays hurt not only the companies operating the lorries but also shipping companies, exporters and construction companies, who depend on the goods arriving on time.
Nanoo Viswanath, general manger at Nashwan, said: “Ports in Dubai are handling millions of containers and cargo brought from different parts of the world. Ships cannot wait for long hours because of traffic restrictions on Dubai’s roads.
“If importers and exporters cannot handle cargo on time, it will create huge losses to ships and the logistic business segments such as freight forwards, shipping agents and transport firms. In addition, cargo of a perishable nature such as fruits, vegetables, refrigerated food items and medicines will get damaged while waiting for the road to open for heavy trucks and then stuck in traffic jams.”
Unable to wait for the building projects, LTA has asked that the ban on lorries be lifted and large trucks be allowed to operate in two lanes on Emirates and Al Khail Road.
Transport firms say road curbs are bringing business to halt