On July 1, the Middle East's first road-toll system came into effect as the Salik toll gates at Al Barsha and Al Garhoud went live. The initiative was the RTA's attempt to ease traffic on Shaikh Zayed Road and make people use alternative routes. A toll of Dh4 is automatically deducted each time a car passes under the Salik gate, with a maximum charge of Dh24 per day. Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News

Dubai: Taxi users will no longer be exempt from the Dh4 toll when crossing Salik gates beginning January 1, Gulf News has learnt.

The Salik toll system which was introduced by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), in July 2007, was also applicable to taxis.

However, following numerous complaints by commuters who felt cheated, the toll was scrapped for taxis from December 2008.

This time around, officials are putting technology to use in a bid to curb complaints. “Previously most complaints were from tourists, because cab drivers had to manually add the Dh4 toll on the fare and this made tourists think they were being cheated. This time, the meters will automatically add the toll,” an official at the RTA said.

Taxi operators have been asked to upgrade their meters to a recently introduced system called D8, in order to automate the process. The taxi operators also confirmed the move.

RTA officials confirmed the move to reintroduce toll for cabs and told Gulf News that details would be made public soon.

The RTA held meetings with the city’s authorised taxi operators informing them of the move.

“Tourists are one of the main customers for us, so earlier the manual entry of the toll resulted in many issues. But since the new system eliminates this process there should not be any hassles,” an official at one of the taxi firm’s said.

But one regular cab user hit out at the planned change. “It is unfair to charge Salik from taxi users, since taxis are part of the public transport network,” Fay Daniel, a regular commuter said.

“Unbelievable! Why does RTA want to reintroduce the toll?” said one driver. “I think there must have been hundreds of complaints daily,” he said, referring to the situation in 2007.

There were issues from both commuters as well as drivers, said another driver.

“Tourists who had no clue about Salik or the routes get taken for a ride by corrupt drivers. They used to add the charges even if they didn’t pass the toll gates.”

Some customers would argue with the drivers even if the toll was rightly taken from them, he said.

“The new system will eliminate issues to a large extent since the fare cannot be tampered with.”

But this would mean that drivers will lose a lot of time if customers insist on taking alternate routes to avoid Salik, he added.

There are currently four Salik gates in Dubai. Initially two toll gates were set up at Shaikh Zayed Road and Al Garhoud bridge. Two more were added later at Al Maktoum bridge and Shaikh Zayed Road.