Abu Dhabi residents react to new road toll

Drivers have spoken out about how the charge will affect them

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Some Abu Dhabi motorists fear a new congestion charge will force them to move homes to avoid running up hefty bills.

The government announced on Thursday that tollgates would be placed at four bridges leading in and out of the capital.

From October 15, drivers travelling through Maqta, Mussafah, Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Khalifa bridges will be charged Dh4 during morning and afternoon rush hours between Saturday and Thursday

At off-peak times, as well as all day on Fridays and during public holidays, the toll will reduce to Dh2.

On Thursday, people living and working in the emirate said the scheme would drive up their living costs. For a commuter using one of the four major routes in or out of Abu Dhabi at peak times, the charge comes to Dh160 over four weeks for a five-day working week.

Abu Dhabi city residents travelling to Dubai, or, for example, to Yas Island for leisure or shopping, will also be affected. There will be a daily maximum fee per vehicle of Dh16 per day.

Yousef Barhoum, 39, a Briton who lives in Al Reef and works at the US embassy, said he had to pass over Sheikh Zayed bridge on his way to and from work each day.

“I might have to move inside Abu Dhabi,” he said, after calculating how much he would have to pay for Salik per year.

“I am considering convincing my wife and kids to stay in the US so I don’t have to pay for two cars,” he said.

“Then I can move to a smaller place inside the city. The only way to avoid it is to move inside Abu Dhabi or to use public transport."

Mr Barhoum said he did not believe adding tollgates would ease traffic flow because there were no alternative routes available.

“It is mandatory to go through them [to the island] back and forth, you can’t get away from it," he said.

He also said he believed more tollgates would be introduced in future on roads leading to Al Ain.

Mohammad Al Samsam, a 28-year-old business analyst from Syria, is already moving home.

He lives in Abu Dhabi Gate City, where he would have to cross Mussafah bridge on his way to his office in Nation Towers.

“I also have an office in Dubai which I work from every other week, so I would have to pay in Abu Dhabi and Dubai," he said.

“I am moving next month to Karama in Abu Dhabi. There I will be closer to work and won’t have to pass through Abu Dhabi tollgates every day."

But Majd Mirza, 38, said he believed it was not worth uprooting his life because of a road toll.

“I will just accept the extra expenses with an open heart,” said the engineer, who is originally from Jordan.

“I live in Khalifa Park behind Al Seef Village and I have to drive on Sheikh Zayed bridge to go to work at Abu Dhabi International Airport.

“And If I have to run a procedure at a ministry in Abu Dhabi [which I often do] I have to go back and forth four times; so that would be Dh16 a day.

“To move somewhere off the island closer to the airport, I will at least have to pay about Dh5,000 for moving expenses, so it is better to stay where I am.”