UAE : Dubai Launches Bus Network for Metro Line


A bus network for new Metro line

A Metro train parked at Jebel Ali station in Dubai. Paul Vecina / The National

DUBAI - AUG 19: Seven of the Dubai Metro’s stations will be served by bus routes when the flagship transportation project launches in less than three weeks, a transport source has said.

When the Metro begins service on September 9, seven of the first-phase Red Line’s 29 stations will be linked by 25 bus routes passing through residential areas.

Forty-one such bus routes should eventually serve the Red Line.

The routes will initially serve the stations at Ibn Battuta Mall, Terminal Three at Dubai International Airport, Al Rashidiya, Mall of the Emirates, Dubai International Financial Centre, Jumeirah Islands and Dubai Marina, according to an official of the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA), who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“There will be more routes launched after Ramadan, but these are the first ones,” he said.

Jumeirah Islands Station and Al Rashidiya Station will also have free parking for motorists who drive to the stations.

The RTA describes the Dubai Metro as the backbone of the emirate’s new, integrated public transportation system, from which other services including buses, water taxis and abras will branch out across the city.

The authority hopes that 30 per cent of Dubai’s population will use public transport by 2020, up from the current six per cent.

Trains on the Red Line – which stretches 52km from Jebel Ali along Sheikh Zayed Road and across Dubai Creek – will start operating on September 9.

The second phase, the Green Line, is scheduled to launch next year.

The buses will be vital to Metro’s success as they will ferry passengers to and from the rail stations, according to the RTA. Eventually, buses will loop through residential and business areas, stopping at each of the Red Line stations.

Some of routes will also link the Metro stations to each other.

“Some of the stations will have lots of new routes, and some will not,” the RTA official said.

“The Ibn Battuta Mall Station will be a busy hive of activity. As of now, stations in the central business district will not have any new feeder routes, but there are already existing lines running through them.”

Ibn Battuta Mall will have seven bus routes – including the F43, F46 and F53, which have been operating since last June in preparation for the September 9 launch.

Mall of the Emirates and Airport Terminal Three will have four feeder routes, and Dubai Mall will be linked to the Dubai International Financial Centre Station.

The Jumeirah Islands Station will be linked to the Marina Station via a feeder route.

The Green Line, which is expected to launch next March, will have 150 buses serving its 18 stations.

RTA buses will be fitted with an automatic fare collection system to read passengers’ fare cards, which will also be valid on metro trains and water buses.

In June, the RTA announced an order for 518 buses, costing Dh846 million (US$230m), to be delivered by next April.

Three hundred buses will be required to serve the 41 Red Line feeder routes, which will include 10 existing routes that have been modified. Buses are expected to run every 10 minutes, on average.

Dubai’s introduction of air-conditioned bus shelters is expected to facilitate the bus service and entice more people on to public transport. Already, 645 cooled shelters are in use, and the RTA plans to increase that number to 1,500.

All buses for the Red Line’s 25 feeder routes will operate from the new Dh400m public bus depot in Rawiyya, which began operating two weeks ago.

The Dh205m phase-one development included the construction of the bus parking yard, a workshop and a vehicle washing unit.

Phase two will incorporate a building for 40 employees and quarters to accommodate 444 drivers.

The second phase will include restaurants, retail outlets and a mosque for 250 worshippers.


Driver dies as his taxi goes up in flames

SHARJAH - AUG 19: A taxi driver died when his vehicle caught fire yesterday morning in the Al Khan district.

Attempts to save Syed Ali Shah, 45, a Pakistani, failed after his stationary taxi was engulfed in flames at about 11am, seven hours into his shift for Union Taxi.

Col Wahid al Serkal, the head of Sharjah Civil Defence, said the Sharjah Police CID was investigating the incident.

Syed Sharif, the dead man’s cousin, who drives for another taxi company in Dubai, said he was called with the news while he was working.

“I don’t know why fire came to my cousin’s car; it was a new one, a 2008 model and he had been driving it for about one year,” he said.

A chef at a nearby Chinese restaurant said other taxi drivers had shouted the word for fire in Urdu, Arabic and English when they saw the flames.

“By the time I moved out of the restaurant, the fire was booming and people were shouting at the driver to get out,” he said.

Another witness from the nearby Sanobar restaurant said even though emergency services were on the scene within about five minutes, “the driver had already lost the battle for life”.

A spokesman for Union Taxi, declined to comment until after the police had finished their investigation.

Mr Shah, who was alone in the car, is survived by a wife and five children, all in Pakistan.


Building collapse - Danger still lurks’ 

DUBAI - AUG 19: Police have recommended that the remainder of a building which collapsed in Dubai on Sunday be torn down as more cracks started to appear in the crumbled structure yesterday.

Deputy Director of Dubai Police General Khamis Mattar Al-Muzaina said that more cracks were found inside the collapsed building on Abu Hail Road in Deira and the municipality should consider the dangers of keeping the building standing in the condition it is.

General Al-Muzaina, said: “We noticed glass falling from the building. It could collapse further at anytime. It’s dangerous to keep the building standing in its current condition,” Al-Muzaina said.

On Monday the municipality announced that a technical team had been set up to carry out a probe into the incident, which saw workers run for their lives when the building began to shake at 3.30pm.

Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director General of Dubai Municipality said the committee, had begun the work by undertaking a laboratory test to determine the safety of the materials used for the construction and the source of those materials.

The committee is expected to finish its work within two weeks to determine the cause of the collapse.

The committee is also obser-ving the current status of the project by appointing surveillance points on the building in order to monitor the movements and stability of it.

The building turned into dust in 15 minutes and huge piles of steel and concrete crashed onto parked cars.

Al-Muzaina said: “There have been rumours that this was deliberate or a terrorist operation but this is not the case. It was an accident and we are still investigating the cause.” He continued: “We have questioned the son of the owner of the contracting company and the engineering consultancy company and those who put the steel structure for the building in but we have not arrested anybody. “The building contains five floors above the ground and three floors below. The roof of the top level of the basement was damaged while the other two are in good condition,” he added.


Emirates airline, the largest Arab carrier, has denied allegations from Australia’s regulator that it fixed air freight prices.

“Emirates denies the allegations and will be defending the proceedings,” the airline’s spokesperson said yesterday.

“It does not intend to make any further comment given that the matter is before the court,” the statement added.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it is taking action against the Dubai carrier in relation to alleged price fixing, which it believes took place between 2002 and 2006.

The ACCC alleges that the Dubai-government owned airline entered into arrangements or understandings with other international air cargo carriers that had the purpose and effect of fixing the price of certain fuel surcharges, security surcharges and rates that were applied to air cargo carried by Emirates and some other airlines.

The ACCC also alleges that the arrangements or understandings were reached in countries including Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, UAE and India.
The ACCC is seeking declarations, injunctive relief, pec-uniary penalties, and costs.

A directions hearing has been set down for September 11, 2009 in the Federal Court in Sydney, the ACCC said.

Emirates is the ninth airline to be the subject of ACCC proceedings for fuel surcharge price fixing.

Air France and KLM - which have now merged - Martinair and Cargolux were ordered to pay a total of $21 million in separate proceedings, while cases are still being heard against Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific.

New Zealand has accused 13 airlines of forming an air cargo cartel and similar action has been taken in the US.

Corruption inquiries total Dh3.6bn

DUBAI - AUG 19: More than a year ago, Dubai quietly launched a wide-ranging anti-corruption investigation to revitalise investor confidence in the emirate.

The results of the operation so far, revealed to The National, are staggering: 11 investigations or court cases are under way; 34 executives are either in court or on their way there; and Dh3.58 billion (US$950 million) has allegedly been stolen or used as bribe money, according to files from public prosecutors that give the first overview of the whole operation.

Since March 2008, investigators appointed by the Dubai Government have been looking into executives from some of Dubai’s leading real estate and financial firms, a move acknowledged by the Government for the first time a year ago this week. In an online question-and-answer session earlier this year, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, said the reason was simple: “No one in the Emirates is above the law and accountability.”

“These cases are a sign of the Government’s clear interest in improving management of firms and its commitment to principles of proper accountability,” he added.

“In all corruption cases, people are not only prosecuted and punished, administrative and legal holes that they exploited to commit their crimes are plugged.”

An independent team from the Dubai Government’s financial department was appointed to take on corruption and given unprecedented powers. Its investigations – which continue – have included some big names.

The biggest case involves the government-owned Dubai Islamic Bank, which officials say has been defrauded of Dh1.82bn.

The next biggest involves the chief executive officer of Al Boom Holdings, who has been indicted for defrauding 3,700 investors of more than Dh900m.

Recently, the investigators have focused on another high-profile property developer who is suspected of having defrauded investors of more than Dh600m.

In all, at least eight major firms, six of which are owned by the Dubai Government, have had several of their senior executives indicted.

The sweep came on the heels of criminal investigations into 10 Dubai businessmen, including the vice chairman of Istithmar World, the former chief executive of the mortgage provider Tamweel, and the lender’s former head of investments.

The general manager of sales at Nakheel, and another former employee at the company, were also arrested along with four senior executives at Sama Dubai. Their arrests in August 2008 followed that of the former chief executive of Deyaar Developments, in April 2008. All were accused of financial irregularities.

A former board member at Tamweel was also arrested on charges of misconduct in the Deyaar case and later faced charges of corruption in Tamweel.

At the time, the Public Prosecutor’s Office said “fighting corruption is at the top of the [Dubai] Government’s priorities”.

Soon after the first announcement of the corruption sweep last year, the first effects of the global financial crisis were felt in the development sector. Tatweer-owned Mizin quickly moved to the centre of police investigations when its former chief executive was arrested.

The executive denied accepting Dh1.98m in bribes from a second defendant, an Arab investor, at a court hearing in May, and was granted bail.

Nakheel surfaced in the investigations again in February, when two senior staff members of the company’s Waterfront development were arrested on fraud charges. Two Australians were charged in July and will face court on September 15. Both have been in jail since their arrest.

In June, Deyaar’s former chief executive pleaded not guilty to accepting bribes in exchange for granting discounts and other facilities amounting to Dh56.6m to a former federal minister of state and finance.

The Deyaar executive took six million shares in the company, 380,000 Tamweel shares, 145,000 Dubai Islamic Bank shares, and Dh17.9m as a bribe from the former minister, prosecutors say, then allowed him to take control of funds belonging to Deyaar and Dubai Islamic Bank.

Meanwhile, the four former senior Tamweel executives, including the former chief executive, appeared in court last month, charged with making Dh44m from illegal land deals involving company-owned properties. The four denied the charges. Three were granted bail; the next hearing is set for September 6.

So far, only one of the suspects arrested has been cleared: the former chief executive of Sama Dubai’s Lagoons development was found not guilty last month of a range of charges, including bribery, but still faces an appeal by the prosecution.

Three of his junior colleagues were found guilty of accepting bribes and each sentenced to a year in prison.

As most of the cases continue, property lawyers and analysts say the massive investigation will improve investor confidence.

“Although the initiative predates the start of the economic crisis, and is not merely a reaction to it, it will help to bolster investor sentiment going forwards,” said Lisa Dale, a partner at Al Tamimi & Company, a law firm.

“Investors will be able to feel more confident that they are transacting in a fair, transparent and accountable environment.”

Ms Dale added that the law firm had noticed property companies paying closer attention to detail in their day-to-day dealings.

“It is certainly having an impact on the way that these businesses are run,” she said.

But building transparency and an atmosphere of trust and accountability takes “trial and error to implement”, according to Saud Masud, a property analyst at UBS, a Swiss bank.

“I would assume sweeps would get people’s attention and would be perceived as incrementally positive,” he said.

“However, investor confidence is a tough thing to earn and will likely take several years, along with visible examples of enhanced disclosures and reforms.”

Amid the financial crisis, the corruption investigations are an added challenge for property firms, causing them to be overly cautious, according to Ian Albert, the regional director of Colliers International, a property consultant.

“It’s one of many issues that, to a certain degree, the developers are struggling with,” he said.

“It’s very easy to point the finger at developers, but the reality is like everybody else, they’re suffering from lack of finance and late payments. And then within the scheme of things there might be litigation going on, either within their own company or one they’re associated with.

“It’s a contributing factor to delay within those organisations, because they have to go back and look at their own records and perhaps sort some aspects of their financial history out, should it want to be inspected.”



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Title: UAE : Dubai Launches Bus Network for Metro Line

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