The Al Safa toll gate on Shaikh Zayed Road. Motorists are upset over RTA rule of forfeiting money in case of non-use of Salik account for more than 36 months. Image Credit: Francois Nel/Gulf News

Dubai: It is commonly known that passing through Salik toll gates without money incurs fines, but does anybody know that not using Salik for a long time could also mean losing money?

Well, that’s true. If a commuter with a Salik account does not use Salik for a long time, 36 months to be precise, then he is bound to lose all the money in the account.

According to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), it is a rule and has always been the case, but most motorists are not aware of this.

Recently, a Dubai-based Omani motorist got the shock of his life when he received an SMS from RTA which read as follows: “Your Salik account 33010024 has been inactive for 35 months. If no trips are charged to this account in the next 14 days, your account balance will be forfeited.”

Himyar Nasir, who received this SMS, couldn’t believe what he read.

“This is absolutely ridiculous. It’s like threatening to seize my money if I don’t use it. I should have a choice to use or not use it. Nobody can force me,” said the fuming motorist.

Nasir, who is mostly out of the country on work, couldn’t save his money as he couldn’t use Salik as suggested by RTA in the next 14 days.

This was confirmed by the next SMS received by Nasir from RTA, which read as follows: Dear Salik Customer, Your account number 33010024 has been inactive for the past 36 months. As per our previous advice, your account balance has been forfeited.”

Mohammad Ebrahim Al Awadhi, Director ITS, at RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency, says people have to use Salik only once in three years to save the money.

“The Salik credit will be forfeited should the user not pass the Salik toll gate over a period of three years. Secondly, as the time period of not passing under the toll gate is about to lapse {which is three years} he is notified through an SMS. Before the lapse of three years, if he passes even once, his credit will not be forfeited and he is again given a time period of three more years,” said Al Awadhi.

Another RTA official told Gulf News that there is no refund policy on Salik. “You cannot get refund of your money if you choose to cancel your Salik account at any stage,” he said.

Nasir, who doesn’t remember how much money he had in his Salik account, says he couldn’t come back from Oman just to use Salik, and insists this shouldn’t be the case.

“Whether it is Dh4 or Dh50, it is the customer’s money and the customer should have a right to its use. When we pass through Salik without money we are penalised, when you don’t use Salik, your money is gone,” added an agitated Nasir.

Another motorist, who also lost money in his Salik account for not using it, says the act of forfeiting a customer’s money defeats what RTA claims to be the purpose of installing Salik gates.

“The RTA always claimed that Salik toll gates were installed to divert traffic and ease congestion on busy roads like Shaikh Zayed road and Al Garhoud bridge. They claimed that they want people to use alternative routes, but with this act it is clear that they only care about money and nothing else,” said another miffed motorist on condition of anonymity.

So, for those who haven’t used Salik for a long time, your money in that account is not safe.