NEWS FROM THE UAE
Excerpts from UAE Dailies
Roads, transport projects meant to ease traffic problem: Al Tayer
DUBAI — Sep 06: With traffic diversions causing a lot of inconvenience to the daily commuters in Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has emphasised on the importance of carrying out road and transport projects to meet the increasing traffic requirements. The senior officials have asked the residents of Dubai to cooperate with the RTA.
The Chairman of the Board and Executive Director of the RTA, Mattar Al Tayer, said that the current diversions were necessary in order to solve the traffic problem in Dubai once and for all.
“The emirate of Dubai is currently witnessing an unprecedented urban development and the projects currently being implemented are huge by any standards. The provision of sufficient infrastructure is required to support this growth and the resulting increase in traffic flow,” he said.
In implementation of the strategic plan of the emirate, a number of infrastructure projects are currently being constructed, including roads as well as utility lines and stations, a matter which requires conducting multiple traffic diversions, Al Tayer stated.
He pointed out that the RTA was attaching great importance to the safety and convenience of users of the roads and transport system. Therefore, one of the key principles observed by the RTA is that the capacity of any traffic diversion shall not be short of the original capacity. In addition to that, all requirements and standards of traffic safety have to be addressed with directional signboards provided at diversion sites. Moreover, traffic diversions shall be made to roads which have a suitable capability to handle the traffic flow.
Al Tayer admitted that traffic diversions naturally result in slowdowns and diversion of traffic to alternative routes, thus causing congestion in certain areas.
“The number and volume of roads and transport projects currently being implemented is so big that it will be difficult to avoid all the side-effects of such construction activity,” he commented.
Al Tayer further stated that many service-providing bodies are currently implementing several projects within the rights of way at a cost exceeding Dh10 billion and many of them require traffic diversions. Extending water, electricity, sewage and telecommunication services in Al Barsha, Al Qusais, Mirdif, Al Mezher are but a few examples.
He elaborated that construction of massive urban projects also requires traffic diversions as there will be a need to transport large quantities of building materials and installations by means of heavy trucks, which use traffic diversions and constitute a great burden on traffic flow. About 50 per cent of trucks’ movement on Dubai-Hatta Road is associated with the implementation of these projects.
“According to the strategic plan of the RTA, a radical improvement in traffic flow will be achieved within 3-4 years,” he concluded.
Prosecution probing girl’s death
ABU DHABI — Sep 06: The Public Prosecution in Abu Dhabi is examining the case of the 10-year-old Indian girl, Anna Francis, who died last week reportedly due to food poisoning under the Al Musaffah Police Station’s jurisdiction.
Major Salem Al Amiri, Deputy Director of Al Musaffah Police Station said the file contains all the investigations conducted by the police as well as the forensic report.
Despite the fact that the child’s father has not accused anyone of causing her death and reports that the child was moved from one clinic to another, the prosecution department is likely to question people who probably could shed some light on the case, a source said.
Meanwhile, legal consultant Tariq Nassar said whether the parents of the deceased file a compensation claim or not, the law will take its own course. If during investigations, any person/s is found responsible for the death of the girl, legal proceedings will be initiated.
ADIS student emerges topper in CBSE
ABU DHABI — Sep 06: Abhilash Krishnan, who is in the XIth Grade and an assistant head of boys of Abu Dhabi Indian School, has vindicated his first position after marks verifications at Central Board of Secondary Examinations (CBSE) of India.
He also equalled the toppers of the UAE schools obtaining a total of 96.2 per cent marks as he got only 48 per cent marks in Social Science before the verifications.
Krishnan had always been a topper in the school and his teachers were astonished when they saw that he had scored a dismal 48 per cent in social science, said V. K. Mathu, Principal of Abu Dhabi Indian School.
“The school authorities felt that it was a mistake. A request for verification of his marks in Social Science was made to the CBSE, New Delhi in India and an official statement of his marks revealed that Abhilash had actually scored 98 per cent marks that made him the topper in the school with his revised aggregate of 96.2 per cent marks,” Mathu added.
Anindiya Gautam, who was declared topper earlier, now occupies the second place with 95 per cent.
Besides that Krishnan also equals the aggregate percentage of the UAE topper, Dharini Natarajan of Delhi Private School, Sharjah.
Being excellent in academics, Krishnan is an ace public speaker and an active member of the Nature Club in school. He represented the school at the Terra quiz, an environment quiz contest, conducted by The Energy Resources Institute, New Delhi, for the 32 top schools who had taken the Green Olympiad, an environment examination across India and abroad.
Prices worrying residents
UAE - Sep 06: PRICES of a variety of food products - most importantly cooking oil, margarine and a range of canned food have continued to rise unabated in the capital over the past quarter, with some products costing 40 per cent more than what they cost three months ago.
Replacing price tags regularly has become common off late for workers at Abu Dhabi's numerous supermarkets and department stores.
Cooking oil leads the list of products which have continued to cost more with more than 30 per cent increase over the last three months.
A bottle of olive oil from Al Wazir brand has raised from Dhs17.90 to Dhs21; while a bottle of olive oil from Al Rahma brand has increased by Dhs4 and to reach Dhs14.50.
The Tunisian brand of the same commodity Olivia costs Dhs31, while the Palestinian Al Rabwa costs Dhs35.
Similar rise has been seen in other variety of oil products as well with margarine following suit.
Over the last couple of months, two premier brands of margarine Aseel and Lurpack has become costlier by Dhs2.5 and Dhs3 respectively.
The story is no different for canned food, with a can of American Fava Beans costing almost double, while the price of canned hommos saw a 100 per cent rise.
Prices of some varieties of canned tuna was raised on three occasions over the last couple of months, now costing Dhs7.50 as compared to Dhs 6.25 two months ago.
Prices of canned sardine, canned beef and canned chicken mortadella have all seen substantial rise in the last quarter.
Similarly, prices of all kinds of canned fruits have gone higher by one or two dirhams.
Hapless consumers in the capital have urged the authorities to put a check to this continues increase in prices and bring some kind of stability if not retreat to earlier rates.
Two dead as mosque building collapses in RAK
RAS AL KHAIMAH — Sep 06: Two labourers were killed and 25 others suffered injuries after an under construction mosque collapsed in Ras Al Khaimah yesterday, Civil Defence and hospital sources said. The deceased could not be identified till late in the evening.
The accident, according to Civil Defence officials, occurred about 7.00pm when the second storey of the building caved in.
“About 20 people were working on the second storey and seven others were working below. Two died on the spot. Two severely injured people were rushed to Al Saqr Hospital. The others were taken to Dhaid Hospital,” said Civil Defence sources.
According to sources in Saqr Hospital, the two injured labourers were in a critical condition.
The details of the contracting company to which the labourers belonged to were not known.
Waterbus yet to make a splash in Dubai Creek
DUBAI — Sep 06: Contrary to expectations, the ambitious waterbus project of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has not been a big hit with the masses, senior RTA officials admit.
Engineer Essa Abdul Rahman Al Dosari, CEO of the Marine Agency of the RTA, said that the current occupancy rate of the waterbus was in the vicinity of 10 per cent, which needed to go up.
“It’s a satisfactory, but not a good occupancy rate. However, on weekends we do see a decent occupancy rate of 70 to 80 per cent. But more needs to be done to make this service click with the masses,” he conceded.
Dosari said they were planning more campaigns to make the waterbus popular. “We are mulling a lot of things. There will be big advertisements in newspapers, magazines and television. We are also planning competitions and contests with attractive prizes for the winners. We are coordinating with our marketing department for this,” he revealed.
Of late, not many people have been using the waterbus service, with the seats remaining empty most of the times. Sources said that one of the main problems was the ticket cost. With the RTA setting the ticket price at Dh4 for a 5-8 minutes ride, a majority of people are opting for the traditional abras at Dh1. RTA officials, however, said the waterbus service was not targeting Abra users.
“According to the international benchmark, an evaluation will be done once every six months to ascertain the real status. It’ll be on the basis of the report that changes can be made, for example ticket rates etc,” pointed out Dosari.
Meanwhile, the RTA has recently launched the second route of the service between Al Sabkha and Al Seef stations. The first route of the service between Al Sabkha and Bur Dubai stations was launched in August. Two more routes are slated to be launched by November this year, in addition to one route exclusively for tourists.
Cyber bullies stalk pupils
UAE - Sep. 06: The menace of cyber bullying is creeping its way into children’s lives in the UAE.
Emirates Today has learned that bullies are targeting their classmates through the internet and via abusive messages on their mobile phones.
And young victims and their parents fear there are no clear guidelines to combat the growing trend.
The messages often contain profanities and threats of violence, which cannot be published on grounds of taste.
One parent, whose daughter was subjected to taunts on the web, said the school made it clear they could not deal with bullying if it happened outside their premises.
The Pakistani father said his 13-year-old daughter, AM, has been a target since April of a vicious hate campaign started by one girl.
He said a vile, malicious, racist and calculated attack was launched against his daughter through e-mails, chat rooms and text messages.
“They posted my daughter’s photograph on a website and made fun of her in the chat rooms by calling her ugly, fat and used vulgar language to hurt her,” said the father, who requested anonymity.
He added that the issue got out of hand when the bullies began calling the family’s home number to abuse his daughter and his wife.
Another parent, whose 13year-old daughter was also a victim of cyber bullies, said they pulled their daughter out of school when nothing was done to address the issue.
“My daughter started suffering from depression, developed sleeping problems and dizzy spells,” said the mother. “When the school failed to tackle the bullies, I had no other option but to pull my daughter out. She is doing her grade eight in a new school and is happy,” she added.
When Emirates Today approached the school, where both incidents happened, the school said they were investigating the allegations.
Melissa Jarvinen, marketing manager, Beacon Education, said: “Bullying is totally unacceptable behaviour in our schools. We take all necessary steps to ensure no type of bullying happens in the school environment. At the same time, it is important that parents monitor their children while in chat rooms because we cannot keep a check on all the computer access points they have.” A spokesman from the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, said: “All public schools have a behavioural code that strictly prohibits any kind of bullying. Private schools are bound by their own rules.”
Cameras ‘no privacy threat’
Dubai - Sep 06: Security cameras installed around the emirate aim to protect residents and visitors rather than monitor them, police said. Colonel Omar Abdullah Al Shamsi, Director of Command and Control at Dubai Police, said the cameras provide police with a general view of the areas and will not be exploited to violate people’s privacy.
“Monitoring individuals is only done after acquiring the approval of Dubai Public Prosecution,” he said. (Emarat Al Youm)
‘Bed and breakfast’ initiative to boost tourism in India
DUBAI — Sep. 06: In an effort to increase its inbound tourism, India has taken the initiative to make available Bed & Breakfast establishments, which are common in Europe.
The new scheme to register home stay facilities, according to the India Tourism office, has already been put in place. Under the scheme, house owners can offer up to five rooms or 10 comfortable beds that offer air-conditioning facilities and attached western toilets to tourists.
K.L. Das, regional director of India Tourism Dubai, said that the Indian Ministry of Tourism will also increase the number of budget category rooms by recognising spare rooms of house owners in Delhi as “Incredible India Bed & Breakfast Establishments”, under ‘Gold’ or ‘Silver’ category.
“The initiative will make rooms available at affordable rates for common tourists, who wish to visit India. Tourists will also be given the opportunity to stay with Indian families and experience the Indian culture. Around 125 bed and breakfast facilities are currently operating,” he said.
An integrated publicity campaign launched by the Ministry of Tourism has been launched to motivate house owners to apply for the scheme. The houses, once registered with the ministry, will be promoted through e-commerce platform of Incredible India website.
Nurses to have code of conduct
DUBAI — Sep 06: Nurses working under the Department of Health and Medical Services (Dohms) will now have code of conduct and guidelines for their professionaal duties.
According to a senior official from the Nursing and Midwifery Services at Dohms, the new rules will reflect standarised policy development regarding the profession. He also said that a committee had been formed to issue a new code of conduct and professional guidelines for nurses in both the private and government health establishments in Dubai.
The guidelines for Dubai nurses includes features from those existing in Australia, Canada and the UK. The code of conduct will include guidelines how nurses should conduct themselves.
Dubai - Barbie left homeless
Dubai - Sep. 06: Barbie dolls in houses across the UAE were made homeless yesterday after toy giant Mattel made its third item recall in less than a month due to excessive amounts of lead paint used during their manufacture.
In the latest blow, an estimated 675,000 Barbie accessories sold between October last year and August this year have had to be recalled. And four of the items on the affected products list, including Barbie rooms and furniture, are being recalled here in the UAE. Al Shula General Trading, distributor for Mattel toys in the UAE, says it is working with local authorities and retailers to remove the recalled products quickly and the situation will be monitored on a daily basis.
Dubai - Facebook not blocked
Dubai - Sep. 06: Facebook fans have been reassured their favourite web site has not been blocked in the UAE. Users of the social networking site were thrown into a state of panic yesterday when they discovered they were unable to use the site or reply to messages.
Facebook fan Victoria, 26, said: “I managed to log in but the site looked different, more simple, and I wasn’t able to do anything while I was on there. It’s all very frustrating.”
But internet providers Etisalat said the problem was not linked to them but due to “some changes to software on the site which have made accessing it all but impossible.” Facebook was back fully functional in the UAE by the early evening hours.
Traffic surge at airport leads to upgrade
Sharjah: Sep 06: A 36 per cent rise in passenger traffic last year at Sharjah International Airport will result in a major upgrade of the SITA check-in systems used by the many airlines serving the airport's three million passengers.
Dr Ghanem Al Hajri, chairman of Sharjah Aviation Services, said: "There has been a tremendous 36 per cent growth in passenger traffic over the last year, partly because we are now the home base for the Middle East's first low-cost carrier, Air Arabia, which is experiencing great success.
"SITA is helping us to drive business transformation through the smart deployment of IT systems tailored to our customers' specific needs and we have now decided to upgrade to AirportConnect CUTE (Common Use Terminal Equipment), a web-enabled version of CUTE as part of our overall airport expansion plan."
The SITA CUTE technology will support 105 check-in counters and work-stations, which will maximise the airport's terminal space and use of shared infrastructure.
The implementation will reduce the need for additional dedicated check-in facilities and allow the airport to maintain its high level of service to all airlines operating from Sharjah International airport with minimal cost.
The locally hosted AirportConnect CUTE system at Sharjah International Airport is based on Windows XP and supports passenger processing applications such as departure control and boarding systems. The system is also capable of full integration with airport operations systems such as flight information displays and baggage management systems.
Hani El-Assaad, SITA regional vice-president, Middle East and Turkey, said: "The implementation of SITA's latest CUTE solutions was based on an on-site survey conducted by SITA to share our recommendations and global experience with Sharjah Aviation Services to help them in achieving their goals.
"The installation of AirportConnect CUTE will improve the passenger journey for all airlines using Sharjah International Airport with enhanced services and reduced check-in times."
Sharjah clears 600 new taxi cars
Sharjah - Sep 06: A TOTAL of 596 taxi cars are set to roll in Sharjah "anytime from this month" to solve the current transport crisis after Sharjah Transport Corporation has allowed each of the four taxi companies to add 149 vehicles.
According to the operations manager of Emirates Taxis, Ahmed Hamza, "We shall bring ours within the next 30 to 45 days." Emirates Taxis has 860 taxis currently, as Hamza said, "each with two drivers."
More assurance came from the Union Taxi customer care assistant, Mustafa Muhammad Khalil. "We shall have our taxis hitting the road by the end of this month." This will raise the number of Union Taxi fleets to 1,149.
Sources from Sharjah Transport Corporation also said that the authorities are preoccupied with solving transport problem. "They have contracted a company from Kuwait to handle this problem," said the source.
This move could not have come at a better time when, on a daily basis, passengers get stranded on Sharjah streets for hours.
The most affected are those heading towards Dubai. "I come here very early in the morning daily, but in most cases I spend more than an hour before getting a cab," said an Asian working in Al-Garhoud, who identified himself as Jamaal.
Some three taxi drivers while talking to this correspondent confessed that they abhor going to Dubai. "We dread going to Dubai. We fear getting stuck in the traffic jams and not reaching our daily collection target. More over we are not even allowed to bring passengers on our way back," said one of them.
Khalis of Union Taxi asked passengers to immediately contact their office if any driver refuses to take them. "Our policy strictly stipulates that a driver has to take a passenger wherever he or she is going, so tell me the number of the vehicle and we take action or else the taxi is not ours," said Khalil.
The authorities have recently banned illegal taxis adding to the woes of commuters who are finding it difficult to travel within and outside Sharjah. The government has also been slapping a fine of Dhs2000 and Dhs4000 to the first offenders and the repeated one consecutively.
"I decided to walk to my working place within Sharjah because not only the taxis are rare, but even the empty ones don't want to stop at you when you're moving to the direction of Dubai," said Hamadi Kamulu.
"It is ok to fine them, but it is better to give us more taxis and buses than fighting our saviours ---the cabs," opined a regular traveller to Dubai, who resides on Al Wahda Road on condition of anonymity.
"When I go to Dubai, I first have to board a bus to Rolla, pay that fare, and then pay another five Dirhams to Dubai," said Nasser Kalule who resides near Peugeot building on Al Wahda Road.