Thursday, July 12, 2007

RTA heads must roll.

The mismanagement of the whole Salik system goes from bad to worse to utter chaos.

Apart from all the other well-discussed issues with the system chosen, the way it was implemented and the timing of its introduction, there are now daily reports of errors with the installation and management of the follow-up procedures.

We had many people reporting that they received no confirmation of their tag purchase, giving them their account number and PIN. On the other hand a lot of people reported receiving the same message from the RTA up to 135 times.

Then we had people complaining that they were being charged a toll even though they hadn't used the toll road.

One of them reported to Gulf News that he then ran into the typical Dubai customer service wall. He managed to get through to the help-line and was told to go in person to the Rashidiya Salik office - but as it's only open when he's working he couldn't go there to sort out his problem.

Most other people said they simply couldn't get through to the help-line.

An RTA spokeswoman told Gulf News:

"It is a new system and maybe there are some people who have received wrong SMSs for the credit they have.

We are trying to update the system and to make the improvements."

A brand new system needs updating and improving! A ridiculous thought I know, but maybe testing it in advance would have been a sensible idea.

To demonstrate yet more incompetence from the RTA, other motorists couldn't put more money into their Salik accounts however hard they tried.

Frustrated drivers called 7Days to say that petrol stations were unable to help them because they'd run out of receipts or the system had broken down. That was denied by the RTA but that hardly helped the motorists or solved the problem.

No point trying to top-up online of course, the recharge system isn't up and running yet. So even if you can get onto the website it's no help. A spokesperson for the RTA said: "The online recharge system is expected to be up soon. That was ten days after they started charging the toll.

I know, I know. You'd expect a basically efficient organisation to have all these things in place before they put the product in the marketplace, but this is the RTA we're talking about.

Today even more faults in the system are reported. Text messages are saying things like 'the account balance is Dh478 which is insufficient and funds must be added immediately to avoid violation fines.' Others show incorrect balances, either more or less than the correct figure. The website isn't working, the help-line is constantly busy.

All-in-all, a disaster.

It was the RTA who chose July 1st as the date to introduce the toll. With the breathtaking incompetence we've come to expect from them they obviously chose a date that was far too early even for their own systems to be in place and tested.

The incompetence is causing huge numbers of enquiries, the SMS system is faulty, the accounting system is faulty, the help-line is constantly unavailable because it's understaffed, the website isn't ready yet, the offices have inconvenient timings.

Why aren't the people responsible being held accountable?

Here are the Gulf News stories in detail:
Motorists charged toll without using gate.
More motorists report faults in toll system.


Alexander said...

"...there's a lot of technology going on in there, from the RFID scanners to the core IT system to the financial management software to the SMS gateway that will manage tens of thousands of messages a day. Add in a couple of million of those messy, organic carbon-based life forms that appear to exist purely to get around, muck about with or otherwise frustrate grand schemes like this and I think that we might all be in for some fun here."

I hate to quote myself. I hate to post crosslinks (but see this May post).

I hate to say 'I told you so'. Or then again, maybe I'm just lying! >;0)

Alexander said...

I also hate it when technology messes up/I mess it up. You'll just have to take my word for it that was the post in May...


Lirun said...

looks like u cant find an emirates blog that isnt focussed on this right now.. is it that pivotal?

secretdubai said...

Yes - why on earth couldn't they have started the scheme but as a dummy run, so motorists would get notifications if their tags weren't working, or if they had run out of credit, but actually no charges are made and everything resets to zero when it is established that the system works.

Seabee said...

Lirun, yes it's probably the No.1 topic here at the moment. The real problem isn't so much the toll itself but the way-too-early introduction of it before anything - including their own systems - was ready.

It's the inept management of the RTA that's the cause of so much anger because they have such an effect on our daily lives.

Alexander, like you, I was posting about the toll mismanagement way back. My first ones were in November last year. We knew the RTA had made so many wrong decisions about the toll, but what none of us realised was that they would introduce the toll way before they were ready themselves to manage it.

EyeOnDubai said...

And yet the key question remains unanswered - why haven't heads rolled yet? There's a piece of the picture missing, or somebody has some extremely heavy duty wasta going on. All the official Government publications (GN included) are more or less toeing the party line, it's only us poor road users who know nothing about traffic management who can see the reality of the situation. Puzzling, no?