Dubai: Inspectors — issuing fines and penalising commuters for carrying food parcels on the Dubai Metro — have gone overboard, commuters said.
In a recent incident, a passenger's food package was confiscated onboard the Metro, following which he was asked to disembark at the next station to pay the fine.
"The inspector told me it is not allowed to carry food parcels on board the train because they stink and cause nuisance to other passengers," the Metro user, who wished to remain anonymous, said.
He added that he had bought the food from a shopping mall to take home to his children.
"I wonder whether the Metro inspectors will also start issuing fines to commuters carrying their lunch boxes to work," another regular Metro user said, adding that the inspectors had never issued any warnings or showed leniency.
"It seems that they have some target to meet and issue fines for any minor mistakes," he said.
However, a senior official at the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) said that it was wrong to issue fines unless a passenger was found consuming food on board the Metro.
"No fines are issued to passengers for carrying food parcels and if someone has been given such fines, he should contact the RTA customer service call centre to lodge a complaint and his fine will be reimbursed," Ramadan Abdullah, Director of Operations at the RTA's Rail Agency, said.
In another incident, an Arab businessman — who was visiting Dubai for investment purposes — said that he had been fined for eating a piece of candy, during a recent Metro trip.
"I am a visitor and took the train just for pleasure. I did not know that a passenger can be fined only for having a candy..." he said in a letter to Gulf News.
He added that he was escorted out of the train by two policemen when he protested against the fine.
"They should show some respect to visitors as I felt insulted," he said.
On this particular issue, Abdullah said: "Rule is the same for every one whether a passenger is a visitor or resident. It is clearly mentioned on the station and the trains that eating and drinking is not allowed on board the trains."
Other passengers said they had been fined for chewing gum on board.
As per the list of fines stipulated in the Order number 3/2009 governing the Unified Fare of Mass Transport in the Emirate of Dubai, a fine could be as minimal as Dh100 — for eating and drinking in the trains and the prohibited areas on stations and bus stops — or as high as Dh500 for offences such as destroying, damaging or tampering with devices, equipment or seats of public transport facilities and services. Resting one's feet on the seats is also subject to a fine.
Chewing gum was prohibited because passengers either spit it on the floor or stick it on the seats.
"We cannot allow passengers to damage the mass transport and its facilities including buses, trains, stations and other services," Abdullah said.
These rules are applicable on all modes of public transport including the Metro, public and the water buses. As per law, carrying alcoholic beverages inside the stations or the trains is an offence too, while spitting, littering or any other act which defaces trains or stations is also be subject to fines.
Additionally, passengers found harassing passengers or causing an inconvenience or disturbance to other users could be penalised too.
Are you are regular Metro user? Have you been fined for carrying food on the Metro? How is your overall experience of using the service?