DUBAI // Motorists will soon be able to use their mobile phones to top up their Salik accounts and pay for parking, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) announced. Mattar al Tayer, the RTA chairman, said the new services would be fast and easy to use, and that he expected both to be running by the end of the year. Speaking during the first day of the Gitex 2008 technology show in Dubai yesterday, he said the RTA had more than 100 services available online, and that the agency was committed to Dubai's e-government project.
"Gitex is an opportunity to showcase RTA e-services targeting road users and motorists," he said. Being able to pay for parking without having to put coins in a machine every few hours will make life easier for thousands of drivers, an RTA spokesman said. "Users will simply send an SMS containing their licence plate number and the number of the area in which they are parked, which will be put up on signs around the city in the coming months.
"The payment will cover parking for two hours, but 10 minutes before the time runs out the user will receive an SMS message asking if they want to pay again, so they can renew their parking without having to leave their office. "The information will be sent directly to the PDA of our parking inspectors, so they will be able to tell who has paid." He said the SMS parking service would cost slightly more than putting coins in to a machine, but said the difference would be "very small".
"You will also be able to use your mobile phone to top up the municipality parking cards, which are available from petrol stations," he said. Some drivers said the system would take some of the stress out of using a car in Dubai. "Sometimes you are in a meeting, and you know you only have five minutes left on your parking ticket but there is no way you can leave," said Tarek Fleihan, who works for an investment bank in DIFC.
Salik was launched in July 2007. Drivers pay Dh4 for each toll gate they pass through, up to a maximum of Dh24 per day, although drivers using the Al Barsha and Al Safa gates on the same journey do not have to pay for both. Heavy fines are imposed on vehicles passing through the gates that have not been fitted with electronic Salik tags. The RTA claims the system has increased the average speed of cars on Sheikh Zayed Road from 40kph to 80kph.