Dubai: Toll system will add to burden

by Bassam Za’za’ and Bassma Al Jandaly, Staff Reporters

Gulf News, United Arab Emirates
December 19, 2004

Motorists publicly denounced the proposed toll system yesterday,
saying the new fee would only add to their already rapidly rising
cost of living.

Armen Hagobian, an Armenian manager who works in the tourism industry,
said the proposed toll system was a bad idea.

“I don’t think I can pay any fils for entering or leaving Dubai. On
the contrary, I believe that I should be paid for promoting Dubai
and bringing in tourists.

“If that means any additional infrastructure, which makes my life
easier, then I would agree to pay. Otherwise, I live in Sharjah because
the rents are much more affordable and reasonable than they are Dubai.

“If the authorities install the toll system, I am ready to leave my
Dubai office and move elsewhere.”

Ayman, a salesman working in a company in Dubai, echoed the same
feelings. “I live in Ajman and work in Dubai. I have to travel to
Dubai four times a day. I cannot afford an apartment in Dubai because
the rents are high.

“So what will I do after the implementation of the toll system? How
much do I have to pay per month? Shall I travel by boat to reach work
every day?” Ayman asked.

“If they offer cheap flats in Dubai, I will be the first to live
there, but it is too expensive for low income families,” said Amir,
a Pakistani.

Haytham Al Shami, a traffic analyst, said the use of a toll tax will
reduce traffic but it should be used during peak hours only and not
on the weekends. “If it is applied in a fair way, with a fair toll,
it is a good way to reduce traffic,” he said.

“Such a toll system is adopted in London, Paris and many other European
cities,” he said.

Jad Mustafa, a 25-year-old Lebanese who works as an account executive,

“This toll will increase workers’ expenses by Dh250 to Dh300 a month.
This system will increase traffic congestion if motorists were required
to stop and pay.

“Many Sharjah residents will be forced to move to Dubai. Some might
even leave the country because the only reason that brought them
here is to earn a living and save. The toll system will make life
more expensive. It’s going to be a huge burden.

“In the past few years, the cost of living in the UAE has taken off
like a rocket. The daily living expenses are increasing, and our
salaries are not,” said Mustafa.

Jamal Saif, newly married UAE national and government employee,
said he is against the toll system.

“We cannot afford to pay for petrol, especially after it recently
increased. Prices of food, vegetables, beverages and clothing have
also increased.

“I cannot imagine myself paying the toll. We already pay taxes,
known as road fees, about Dh250 in Dubai and Dh150 in Sharjah, when
renewing our car registration.”

Saif lives behind Al Qasimi hospital. He spends about three to four
hours a day on the roads between Sharjah and Dubai.

“Before installing the toll system, the authorities should consult the
people. If this toll system goes ahead, it would be an unreasonable
and illogical decision.

“I believe the government should be more careful when issuing new
drivers’ licences. Selling new cars to new drivers should also be
monitored,” he said.

A merchant at one shopping complex in Dubai said the toll system
would have a negative impact on business in Dubai.

“Citizens from other emirates come to Dubai for shopping. The toll
on entering the city, no matter how little, will drive them away,”
he said.

“Before installing the toll system, the authorities should consult
the people.

If this toll system goes ahead, it would be an unreasonable and
illogical decision.”

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