Abu Dhabi road toll scheme set to launch on January 2

Charges were waived until the end of the year because of the pandemic

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Abu Dhabi's road toll scheme will come into operation on January 2 – after charges were waived for several months because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The major transport project was initially due to go live on October 15, last year, only for the launch date to be delayed until the start of this year to allow commuters more time to prepare for the emirate's first road-charging initiative.

In March, transport chiefs said motorists would be exempt from charges when passing through the four toll gates in the emirate to ease financial pressures prompted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The toll gates are installed at Sheikh Khalifa, Sheikh Zayed, Al Maqta and Mussaffah bridges.

On Tuesday, the Integrated Transport Centre called on vehicle owners to register in the Darb toll gate system and activate their accounts before the system goes live on January 2.

Motorists must register by paying Dh100 up front but Dh50 will return as credit on the toll gate account.

Drivers can top up their e-wallet on their account whenever necessary to ensure they have sufficient credit.

Accounts registered with the ITC before the scheme was delayed remain active.

Drivers will be charged Dh4 each time they pass one of the toll bridges during peak traffic periods, 7am to 9am and 5pm to 7pm from Saturday to Thursday.

Daily charges will be capped at Dh16 and the maximum monthly charge will be Dh200.

What happens if you pass through a gate in an unregistered car?

Drivers who pass through toll gates without registering with the Darb system will be given a 10-day grace period to sign up for the scheme.

Once the grace period has passed, they will be fined Dh100 if they have not registered at this point.

A Dh200 fine will be imposed for a second offence and Dh400 for a third.

Those who pass through gates with insufficient balance will be given a five-day period to top up their account and will face a Dh50 fine if they do not do so.

A Dh10,000 fine will be handed out to anyone who alters a vehicle's licence plate to evade the payment of fees.

A Dh10,000 penalty will be imposed for damaging any of the electronic payment machines or toll gates.

Why is the scheme being rolled out?

The road tolls are part of government efforts to reduce congestion and encourage people to use public transport.

The department increased bus routes and introduced a carpooling system to encourage motorists to use alternative modes of transport and help reduce carbon emissions, which have risen in Abu Dhabi over recent years.

It will cost Dh4 each way to cross the four bridges on to the main island at rush hour. The National

Who is exempt from charges?

Authorities announced a number of exemptions to the scheme.

Elderly and retired citizens, those with disabilities and people on low income will not pay.

Charges will also not be imposed on certain vehicles, including ambulances, civil defence vehicles, public transport buses, public taxis licensed in Abu Dhabi and school buses permitted by the ITC.

The toll is a cashless scheme, similar to the Salik system in place in Dubai since 2007, in which drivers are charged every time they travel through a designated point.

For more information on how to register or manage your account, visit this website.