Motorists heading towards Sharjah on Al Ittihad road pass through a Salik gate. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News archives

Dubai: Motorists in Dubai and Sharjah are paying as much as double for Salik tolls after the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) removed the daily Dh24 cap.

The cap, which had been in place since Salik began in 2007, meant motorists would be charged for a maximum of six trips, irrespective of how many more trips they made. But the RTA scrapped the cap on July 15.

Motorists commuting between Dubai and Sharjah have been forced to change their driving habits to cut costs.

Dubai salesman Malik Shamim now spends Dh40 per day on Salik.

“I did not mind paying Dh24 per day as I could pass through Salik gates for unlimited times but now life is difficult," he said.

"I take alternate routes to keep my Salik bill down and it consumes a lot of extra time and energy."

Passenger transport businesses and delivery boys are at the sharp end of the abolishment.

Many, including Sathyanathan from Fancy Transports, who operate 150 passenger buses, say their Salik bill has more than doubled.

He said: "Since we are into passenger transport business, we have to make as many as 10 trips per day and since the cap has been removed we end up paying double now. It is having a big impact on our expenses."

There are those who dodge Salik as much as they can but others don't have that option.

“We can’t avoid the Salik even if we try to because we follow particular routes and alternative routes are usually busier and longer," Sathyanathan said.

"It is not easy on the drivers also who are on the road through the day so we are forced to take Salik, which is proving to be costlier than before."

Hussain, manager of another transport firm, said the removal of cap hasn’t solved the purpose of diverting traffic to alternative routes.

“We have many trips between Sharjah and Jebel Ali and most of our buses spend around Dh40 to Dh50 in Salik daily because the firms that we are contracted with want us to take the direct route rather than alternative as that takes longer," Hussain said.

"As it is there are not many people who would make more than six trips daily so I feel the RTA’s excuse for removing the cap is not valid."

The RTA announced the abolishing of the cap early in July claiming only 5 per cent of road users would be affected.

Many motorists questioned how it would it help reduce traffic if such a small proportion of drivers were affected.

“I think what RTA is saying is absurd," said delivery boy Abdul Majid.

"If their real intention is to reduce traffic they should exempt motorbikes from Salik toll as that will encourage more people to take up motorbikes and reduce traffic on the road."

Each Salik trip costs Dh4 and the introduction of two new Salik gates in April on Al Ittihad road and at the Airport Tunnel took the number to six.

Other Salik gates are located on Al Garhoud Bridge and Al Maktoum Bridge and on Shaikh Zayed Road at Al Safa and Al Barsha.