Passengers demand answers to UAQ bus ban policy

Low-paid workers in Umm Al Quwain say they are suffering financially because buses from Sharjah are not allowed to enter the emirate.
Raye Domingo lives and works in Umm Al Quwain, yet there are no buses in the emirate and her travel expenses have risen as a result. Lee Hoagland / The National
Raye Domingo lives and works in Umm Al Quwain, yet there are no buses in the emirate and her travel expenses have risen as a result. Lee Hoagland / The National

UMM AL QUWAIN // Confusion surrounds a decision as to why public buses from nearby Sharjah are not being allowed to enter the emirate, with both the municipality and a transport authority blaming each other.

Low-paid workers have complained they are suffering financially because bus passengers were forced to disembark at the Al Etihad roundabout on the border of UAQ, because the service was not allowed to drive into the city centre.

From there, they must take a taxi for the rest of the 2-3 kilometre trip, costing them at least Dh10 more.

This also affected passengers who needed to travel from UAQ to Sharjah, the nearest large city and a transport centre to elsewhere in the UAE.

But Umm Al Quwain Municipality and the Sharjah Road Transport Authority (RTA) – which operated the bus services – each said the other was to blame.

A spokesman for the municipality said there had not been any decrees issued to refuse buses entry to the emirate.

He said he believed the decision was made by the RTA.

The spokesman said he wished the authority would change its decision because the taxis gathering at Al Etihad roundabout were creating traffic problems in the area.

But RTA’s operations manager, Mahmoud Ahmed, said the decision had come from UAQ Municipality.

“Each emirate has its own policies, and Umm Al Quwain’s government prevents us from picking up and dropping UAQ’s passengers from the emirate,” he said.

“It just allows us to drop them at the entrance when they come from Sharjah. And then the bus driver continues on to Ras Al Khaimah”

Mr Ahmed said bus policies were decided by the individual emirate.

“We work to offer a service to all passengers and we want to pick up and drop passengers from all the emirates,” he said.

“But we are currently working on solving this problem [in UAQ].”

Raye Domingo, 26, is a Filipina shop worker who moved to UAQ six months ago for her sales job at Dunkin’ Donuts in the Carrefour Hypermarket.

She said: “Using taxis from UAQ to go to the bus station in Sharjah is really affecting my financial life. The bus driver drops us at the main roundabout, because he is not allowed to enter the emirate.

“So we all have to take the taxi from there, which takes another 10 to 15 minutes of waiting before we find one.”

She said this trip cost her Dh50 to get a taxi to Sharjah, or Dh15 on the bus, plus the taxi fare on top of this.

She earned Dh1,700 a month and sent Dh1,000 of this back home to her family, then had to pay Dh350 a month for rent and another Dh100 on electricity payments. The result, she said, was that she could rarely afford the cost of catching the bus and taxis to other emirates.

“I really hope they will allow the bus to enter the emirate because it would make it much easier and cheaper for passengers,” she said.

Her view was backed up by other workers in UAQ.

“If they built a bus station here it would solve our transportation problems,” said Della Fernandez, a 34-year-old cashier, also from the Philippines.

“We have to share a taxi with our friends to Sharjah, which costs us Dh50 each time.”

Abdelgafoor Siud, 37, an Indian who worked as a butcher in UAQ, said: “When the bus comes from Sharjah, it passes by both Ajman and Umm Al Quwain, then continues directly to Ras Al Khaimah.

“I think the driver just won’t enter the emirate because it takes up his time, but it is inconvenient to us passengers.”

Published: May 1, 2014 04:00 AM


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