Construction Week Newsletter 1st October 2005

New road infrastructure comes at a much-needed time

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By  Sean Cronin Published  October 1, 2005

Dubai cabbies will welcome new roads|~||~||~|The one thing I really miss since acquiring a car last week are my trips in the back of Dubai taxis. Dubai taxi drivers are, on the whole, the most pleasant I have come across anywhere in the world - and I won’t have anyone say any different. Dubai taxi drivers will not tell you about who they’ve had in the back of their cab to impress you. They won’t subject you to their vaguely offensive political world view. And they won’t screech off in disgust when you tip them less than the equivalent of ten dirhams. But what I really miss about my metered trips around town are the drivers who shake their heads and say, ‘too much traffic’, before casting a mournful glance at you through the mirror. No matter how bad your day has been, calculating the number of times they must say that to paying customers during a shift is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. But of course it isn’t a laughing matter for the taxi drivers, who are seeing their earnings diminish as the jams get longer. And it isn’t a laughing matter for Dubai LLC, because of the consequences for the economic well being of the emirate and the image it projects to visiting tourists and potential investors. Dubai’s great appeal is the quality of life it offers to people, and permanent traffic congestion cannot be airbrushed from the first impressions of the visitor. That is why the move by Dubai Municipality to act swiftly to remedy the situation, by spending heavily on road improvement schemes, is to be welcomed. That said, the planners at the Municipality will have their work cut out for them in anticipating traffic trends in a city with so many rapidly emerging axes of development. Reversing the current traffic problems is also a very big ask. Just five years ago, the total number of registered vehicles on Dubai’s roads stood at around 350 000. Today that has climbed to almost 500 000 and it is growing at almost 9% annually. The Municipality says that the transportation models it uses to predict traffic flows are 85 to 90% accurate. Let’s hope so, or the taxi drivers and the rest of us will be shaking our heads for a long time to come.||**||

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