Sunday, February 03, 2008

It ain't just Dubai

We complain about the traffic in Dubai - and rightly so, I shall continue to complain I'm sure. But some of the complaints I've read give the impression that Dubai's problems are unique, or the worst possible.

We're in a fantasy bubble in Dubai and so many people lose perspective of the bigger world. My home town had problems last week which puts our traffic situation into some perspective.

Commuting into Sydney and out again in the evening is a nightmare, in all directions. There's a toll on Sydney Harbour Bridge and on many of the freeways. Sound familiar? The tolls are much more than Dh4 too.

There are just two roads going north from Sydney through the Central Coast and to Newcastle, which is a commuter area. They are the Pacific Highway and the F3 Freeway. When the F3 was completed the Pacific Highway was allowed to fall into disrepair, which means in reality there are one-and-a-half roads north.

If, as happens all too frequently, there's a major incident on the F3 it's total chaos. Sound familiar?

Last week the papers reported:

Commuters trapped again

TWO days of traffic chaos on the F3 have reignited calls for a second freeway to Sydney.

A truck crash closed the F3 for seven hours and stranded thousands of southbound holidaymakers and commuters on Tuesday. On Wednesday a pile-up northbound at Berowra injured 10 people and caused more delays.

Motorists were stuck for up to seven hours in a traffic jam in soaring summer heat after a fiery truck crash closed the F3 freeway north of Sydney on Tuesday.

The 18-tonne Kenworth semi-trailer, carrying a load of waste paper and rags, crashed into a sandstone rockface near the Berowra exit of the F3 about 6.30am, bursting into flames.

Both southbound lanes of the freeway were closed for most of the day, one opening at about 1.30pm and the other at about 4pm.

Motorists who weren't trapped on the freeway headed for the alternative Pacific Highway:

It's like trying to avoid gridlock on Sheikh Zayed Road by using Al Wasl Road!

And it's the RTA that's to blame. Sound familiar?

The Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) has been criticised for its handling of the incident, with traffic left banked up for at least 10 kilometres in soaring summer temperatures.

'There is a real duty of care for the RTA for the people who were stuck in this traffic jam,' said Opposition roads spokesman Duncan Gay. 'They cannot just put a sign up, walk away and hope that people will be all right. In a case like this they needed to have extra people with extra directions ... this is the sort of thing they should have been prepared for because frankly it's not unusual for this situation to happen on the F3.'

And does the standard of driving sound familiar?

The driver of the truck, Bill Barry, said he had only taken his eyes off the road for a moment. 'I was reaching down to get a drink out of my fridge.I was sort of coming along and hit the gutter there and that's when I'm into the wall.'

At the height of the blaze, six fire units and 15 crew worked to extinguish the fire in the truck and the burning paper, which had to be pulled apart and hosed down.

A HAZMAT crew was also called in to contain a spill of blazing diesel which ran down the side of the road for about 100 metres.

Where Dubai wins

There was another story that also put Dubai into perspective, something that people living here take for granted.

The lack of crime. And particularly mindless acts of random violence.

Hoons pelt cars with rocks and bottles

A RETIRED couple narrowly escaped serious injury when their car was pelted with rocks.

They were driving home from a friend's house at Tumbi Umbi along the Central Coast Highway at 9.30pm on Monday when they saw three males emerge from the bush beside Wamberal Cemetery.

Bob Watson, 65, of Avoca Beach, said the first rock put a hole in the windscreen while another glanced off the passenger-side corner centimetres from his wife's face. A third left a large dent in their front number plate.

Mr Watson said a young woman's Porsche about 150m in front of their car was also pelted with rocks and beer bottles.

'If it had gone through her open window she could have been killed,' he said. 'Her car was covered in beer, it was sloshed everywhere.'

The senseless act bore striking similarities to a rock-throwing incident on the South Coast which left a promising young beauty therapist permanently disfigured last year.

It's a real plus about living in Dubai.


LDU said...

Talking about pelting a car with bottles...

There was a riot like event against British people in a Perth beach spot on Australia day. This didn't get as much media coverage as the Cronulla Riots (it seemed to have been hushed up), but in principle they were very much the same.

What happened was that a group of people were chanting 'Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi' and an Englishman yelled 'England'. The response was that this guy got pelted with bottles and beaten to the ground. So a small war between English people, Aussies and the Police broke out.

I think this unfortunate incident reflects the feelings of many Australians, mainly those of the northern suburbs. The northern suburbs of Perth hold the largest number and percentage of British nationals than any other region in Australia. It is very common hearing Australians residing in these suburbs complaining about "Poms buying all our houses", "Poms stealing all our jobs", "My sons schools is full of Poms, there aren't any Aussies left."

I think there is a growing criminal problem in Australia and it seems we're moving towards becoming very unaccepting people.

Here are two links that covered the event.,25537,5029202-5013959,00.html,21598,23116150-2761,00.html

Seabee said...

Thanks for that LDU, I hadn't been aware of it.
There's a racist undercurrent in Oz, always has been, and rampant xenophobia. It's ironic when every single non-aboriginal person there is descended from immigrants!

Anonymous said...

Thanks seabee for your blog. I've been looking for information about living and working in Dubai and your blog seems to tell it like it is.
Thank you once again.

Kathryn said...

We are recently returned to KSA from our winter trip out, and I always come back and have a bit of a blue patch about how awful the place is, and then you think about home (Adelaide) through rosy glasses. Thanks for the reality check! Its not all good back home. Being a Sydney-sider, I expect you're not going to the football on Saturday - Collingwood vs Crows. We are making the trip from KSA just for the football. I'm not an Aussie rules fan myself, but my dad is a rabid Crows member so we have been instructed to make a banner in Crows colours and wave it in front of a Channel Seven camera for him! Great!

Seabee said...

Kathryn, you're right, I'm not an Aussie Rules fan so I won't be going - but you have fun!

Anon, you're welcome. Drop me an e-mail if you have any specific questions.

rosh said...

To a large extent I agree with what you say on traffic woes and lack of (multiple) alternative highways. Similar issues here in New York City. Traffic & rush hour is quite bad - you need to take public transportation (which btw is super expensive) and, often, use your car to get to points of various public transportation spots.

Dubai and UAE is still relatively small (in size and population) - hence thought traffic is bad, it isn't as bad compared to those in larger global cities.

In the year 2000 I could get to Emirates towers from SHJ Etisalat offices, in 40 minutes or less during rush hour. Back then, I used to crib a lot on the 40 minutes it took to cover 20 miles - however, today, in NYC it takes me an hour and 20 minutes to cover 6 miles! I have sort of learned to better appreciate things in life.