DUBAI // Residents of Al Nahda are nervously waiting to see how bad congestion will be in their once-quiet neighbourhood now that two new Salik toll gates are charging motorists.
The Dh4 tolls at Airport Tunnel and Mamzar junction can be bypassed mainly via Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road. For Sharjah residents, the alternative motorway can be reached via Baghdad Street or the Al Khan exit. Motorists can also use Beirut Street and Amman Street to get to Al Nahda Road and back on to Sheikh Zayed Road bypassing the Al Mamzar toll gate.
“This is going to cause total chaos in our neighbourhood,” said Fatima Saberi, 32, a mother of two who lives in Al Nahda. “Roads here are already not very practical and difficult to get in and out without getting stuck in traffic. Now everybody will be using our small inner streets as a highway to avoid paying the toll,” said the Pakistani housewife.
“The same thing happened to Al Barsha when they first introduce Salik. All kinds of trucks and cars were rushing through residential streets. This is a big safety risk, residential areas need to be safe for children.”
Mrs Saberi said she dreads to think what might happen to her daughter’s daily commute to school. “I really hope she doesn’t end up being late every day. The school is not too far away but there is no telling what the traffic will be like.”
Commuters like Mahmoud Ali, who lives in Al Twar area, have said they would not be taking shortcuts through the suburbs because he could not afford the extra time.
“Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road has too much traffic in the morning,” said Mr Ali. “It will make me very late. I’m newly employed and we have a policy where if you are late by more than 30 minutes on three separate occasions your pay gets deducted. I can’t risk being late,” said the public relations officer, 35, from Djibouti.
Mr Ali bought his Salik tag two weeks ago, and had calculated the new gates would cost him Dh200 per month. “I think they are launching this too early,” he said. "Construction on Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Road in Sharjah is still not completed, there is still a lot of traffic there, and this will just add more traffic to that road.”
Dubai has six tolls on its motorways – in Al Barsha and Al Safa on Sheikh Zayed Road, on Al Maktoum Bridge, Al Garhoud Bridge, in Airport Tunnel, and at the Al Mamzar junction.
The RTA said the new gates were installed after “extensive traffic research” suggested both areas would suffer massive traffic congestion in the near future.
Motorist who drive through the gates without a Salik tag have 10 days to get one before the RTA imposes a fine of Dh100. This doubles to Dh200 for the second time and Dh400 for each subsequent time.
Mahmoud Abdelghani, who lives on Sharjah’s Al Ittihad road, viewed the installation as a “money making scheme”.
“First they reached for the pockets of the people in Dubai, now they want to take from the people who live in Sharjah,” said the 45 year-old Egyptian commercial food supplier.
“They are not solving anything, they are just moving the congestion from one street and creating it on other streets. That’s not a solution; that’s just sweeping it under the rug.
“Everyone here has a limited income, they don’t have lavish apartments and expensive cars, they work hard and collect a little money to send home to their family at the end of each month. And now a little less will go out each month.”