The new address system being phased in across Abu Dhabi is causing difficulty among taxi drivers new to the emirate.
New street names confuse Abu Dhabi taxi drivers and residents
ABU DHABI // Taxi drivers and residents new to the emirate are struggling to find their way around with the new street address system.
Despite the training TransAD has given taxi drivers, many are confused when faced with two different names for the same street.
K T has driven a taxi for three years in Abu Dhabi. For him the change is manageable because of his familiarity with the streets, but the same cannot be said for many of his colleagues.
“The problem is not for me, it is the new guys that are suffering,” the Sri Lankan said.“They get passengers who sometimes refer to a street as a person’s name but they only know it as a number.”
The system, which started its gradual rollout last year, will give each building a number followed by a unique street name honouring leaders and historical or Arabic themes.
The capital’s existing grid system is based on zones, sectors, main streets, internal streets and plots or buildings.
“That was the system we were happy to use,” said K T.
“It was great, easy to use and nobody needed to be very knowledgeable of the street names to be able to find good work in Abu Dhabi.
“In fact, you didn’t even have to be literate to become a taxi driver. All you had to know was where numbers were, remember certain major streets and get on with your job.”
For Indian expatriate M K, 29, the new system is taking some time to get used to as he mostly depends on landmarks or directions.
“This new street naming is not only difficult for me but also for the people coming in my taxi,” he said.
“It is not known for them if they use the old name or new.”
Taxi drivers said TransAD, the company in charge of the fleet of Abu Dhabi cabs, had given them training on the new system.
The company is also advising taxi drivers to correct passengers who used old names.
“When they tell us Tourist Club Area, we tell them Al Zahiyah,” said K T.
“Zayed City is Al Danah but at the end of the day it is difficult to say which is preferred. They are just names to places.”
Drivers are reluctant to use the new names.
Bayanat, the company that was contracted by the municipality to name the streets, has sifted through about 12,000 suggested names to select about 1,300 new ones.
“Some streets will be named to represent ... people who have contributed to Emirati society, and others will just be named an Arabic noun,” said Mohammed Al Neaimi, an Emirati.
“This is one of the ways that you can celebrate Arab culture but I also think it will take some time getting used to.”
Planners at the Department of Municipal Affairs, which is heading the “Onwani” (My Address) project, believe the address system will mean an end to providing a nearby landmark for taxis or delivery drivers.
Providing every building with a unique address will also boost tourism, enhance business and reduce emergency response times, the department has said.
Every home in Abu Dhabi is expected to have a unique address by next year.