Sunday, January 13, 2008

Who writes this stuff?

This morning I had to pick my car up from the repairer - the usual Dubai problem of a couple of people running into it.

In the reception area there was a poster from our beloved RTA. I've just checked and the same message is on their website.

The message is so typical of companies and organisations these days and like buzzing (click on the label for my buzzing posts) it infuriates me. Meaningless cliches masquerading as some sort of policy or strategy with headings like 'Mission' and 'Values' - cliches in themselves.

Is there a Cliche Factory somewhere? Or do they all go to Google, type in 'meaningless cliche' and copy & paste them?

Here's what the RTA says:

Our Vision
Safe and Smooth Transport for all.

Our Mission
Our mission is to prepare legislation and develop integrated solutions of road systems and land/marine transportation networks that are safe and in line with Dubai’s economic development plans and the highest international standards.

Our Values
In our endeavor to achieve our strategic vision and mission at all levels, we refer of our mutual values that remain our first and prime reference at all times.

Corporate reputation
Our credibility and corporate reputation are honest reflections to the safe and reliable infrastructure we provide.

Distinction and Success
Our distinction is a true representation of performance based on efficiency, effectiveness and focus on continuous success.

Leadership and team work
The professionalism and wisdom of our leaders are manifested through their deep respect for individuals and reinforcement of teamwork.

Strategic partnerships
Our achievements and the success of our strategic partnerships are true reflection of our response to customer expectations and the contribution to the development of our society.

Quality and customer service
Acquisition and utilization of modern technology underpin our continuous journey towards quality and customer loyalty.

It's from the Cliche Factory isn't it.

The whole of the 'Values' section is a generic, copy & paste section that any organisation could use regardless of the business they're in. Many probably do.

But it's not just the pointless, meaningless cliches that annoy me. It's also the fact that the reality on the ground is so very different from the claims.

As a story in today's Gulf News shows, and on the roads as I found to my frustration this morning , there's actually a real world out there.

Ashfaq Ahmed has filed a report which is headed "A long and weary bus ride".

Let me remind you that the RTA is trying to get us out of our cars and onto public transport.

To be more than fair I'll leave out the problems caused by traffic congestion. Stuff like a scheduled 55 minute journey taking 2 hours 15 minutes, or 3 hours and 50 minutes for a journey that Ashfaq says normally takes not more than one hour in a car during morning peak hours.

No, let's forget all that.

But what about these little aspects of travelling by bus as reported by Ashfaq.

"Travelling in public buses in Dubai is an excellent option only if you want to save money and if you are a tourist with plenty of time to waste. It is certainly not a good option for those who have to reach their offices on time everyday because buses never reach on scheduled time...Forget about taking bus every three minutes as is claimed by the Public Transport Agency of the Roads and Transport Authority.

I tried different bus routes at different times of the day...It was a nightmare when it comes to catching bus.

The bus stop was crowded and I had to wait for at least 30 minutes for the bus. But what is this? People have started pushing each other to get into the bus. The driver took a good seven minutes to accommodate around 15 people and then shut the door leaving at least 10 more passengers mostly females behind because there were no seats available.

Ashfaq then changed buses at Al Ghubaiba bus terminal.

"It was not a pleasant scene at Al Ghubaiba as well because it took me a good 20 minutes to find out which bus I should take to reach Gulf News office.

He had a rest at his office, then plunged back into our state-of-the-art, world's-best-practice bus system.

"I waited for a bus near Gulf News for about 30 minutes, it never came.

He walked to Safa Park and found a bus to Satwa bus station.

"I decided to take a bus route map. I started asking different people about the information kiosk. There was none. One driver told me to go to an office with tinted glass. I walked in and found an employee talking over the phone. He was not bothered at all. I looked around and saw some route maps in the corner of the room. I picked up one but you have to be a Columbus to decipher the route map. It was available only in English while most of the people I found using the bus were workers who usually cannot read English.

Did I mention that Al Ghubaiba and Satwa bus stations were filthy enough to make you hold your breath?

How does that relate to the 'Values' claimed by the RTA?

Management of the bus system sounds as efficient as management of our roads, with its lack of information, misleading signs, insufficient warning distances, mishmash of US and UK road systems.

This morning I left Media City at 9.15 to drive to Al Ittihad Road near the airport. That would be maybe 40 km I guess. I picked up my car and drove back to Media City. Total time 4 hours. Half a day.

Every road I drove on or could see was either at a complete standstill or traffic was crawling slowly.

There were apparently road closures around Sheikh Zayed Road, to do with BushW's visit people were saying. Were we informed in advance? Not a word. Had we been we could have used alternative routes.

To add to the problems, people had been sent SMS spam by the RTA telling them that the new Al Garhoud Bridge was open - it wasn't, so that caused extra confusion and mayhem.

Communication isn't rocket science is it. If roads are going to be closed, tell us. Don't tell us the bridge is open if it isn't. Put clear signs up so that we know where we need to steer the car.

And management isn't difficult either, as long as the managers are competent.

If you'd like to read Ashfaq's article it's here. And the bridge misinformation fiasco is here.


What a perfect example of bad planning, bad management, lack of communication.

This afternoon it was announced that tomorrow will be a public holiday for ministries, government establishments, schools and private sector companies in Dubai. In other words, just about all of us.

The afternoon before is just a tad late to make such an announcement wouldn't you say?

Why has the public holiday been declared?

The statement says it's "due to the closure of some main roads, bridges and tunnels" which is in relation to President W's visit.

Why was the announcement made so late?

My bet is that the traffic chaos throughout Dubai today, when they'd only just started to close off roads, caught them by surprise, even though Blind Freddy could have predicted it. Realising what major closures would do, a public holiday was the answer.

Now look, when the US President travels there's an advance guard of security experts who set up security in places he will be visiting. They do it a long time before he travels.

So the measures being taken now were worked out a long time ago.

And nobody thought it through to predict the traffic chaos that would result? Nobody was aware of the effect of closing main roads and bridges in a city that's a traffic nightmare normally? Nobody realised before this afternoon that a public holiday should be declared?

Unbelievable. Just unbelievable.


Zafar said...

Why do we have to be so cowards to accept the demands of this terrorist president of a terrorist nation. Dubai and UAE as a whole are lot more peaceful and crime free nation than US itself, if his movement in US does not require closing of roads and holiday for an entire city then why is it necessary for them to demand it from Dubai and what I dont understand why is it necessary for Dubai to accept such a demand.

This demand should have been refused in the begining and he should have made to come to Dubai in a normal way, 2 security cars in the front and 2 at the back of his car would have been more than enough to make him feel safe, moreover these US arrogant souls should trust the capabilities of thier host nation.

Caz said...

Perhaps it is time that the Big Boss should take a look atthe traffic and roads problems.
The problem is certainly in need of an urgent solution.

Caz said...

Time for the Big Boss to becme involved.

sd-b said...

Seabee- your post is 100% spot on with how I feel about the RTA cliche blabbage as well as the nonsense that went on with the road closures and "public holiday." Unbelievable is right. Everyone in the gov't and many hotel officials knew about the closings days before. Why it was announced last-minute is blood boiling.

trailingspouse said...

On the topic of RTA posters, have you seen this one on your travels? I came across it the other day. My first reaction was to snort in derision, but then I wondered if perhaps it's just an example of culturally appropriate advertising. I certainly wouldn't find anything like it back home.

Seabee said...

ts, good to have you back in the blogosphere :-)

I haven't come across that poster yet. It demonstrates that simply translating something from Arabic to English doesn't work, not just the words but the whole culture & meaning behind them.

i*maginate said...

I guess if there's issue that you write about that has really annoyed you, it would be this! On that note, I was hoping to see the "f" word somewhere at the bottom of this would be so funny to see you swear lol

I was kind of grinning when I read the sounds really funny, as if you're scolding a naughty schoolkid! you think they learned their lesson?

Rhetorical question! If they did, we'd all be living happily ever after in houses that will probably not fall down in 15 yrs, or sink.

Stranger said...

I think that one major problem with the RTA is that they design the "solutions" in their offices and never try them in reality. Did the CEO of RTA or any manager in RTA leave his car at home and use the public transport to reach his office? Would he do it any day? any month? any time in the future? I don’t think so.

In my own assessment, the RTA was created to satisfy the ambitions of certain people (to create CEOs .. etc).

I agree with you that mission, vision .. etc are just clich├ęs .. and who knows tomorrow they may receive an ISO 9001 certification, but believe me they will never get the essence of such terms and awards.

The only thing Dubai knows is how to milk cash and how to use money to milk even more cash ! .. Salik is an example, the claimed free hold system is another example (owners trapped in increasing service costs, and other hidden costs).

Bush's visit and the closure of the roads that took people by surprise is an example that the RTA DOES NOT plan ahead, if at all. They proved to be reactive and not proactive. They could have used TVs to broadcast some message. They could have used people's mobiles (stored in Salik's/Police's databases) to warn people. They could have used hotels to warn tourists so that they catch their planes. They could have done something to the society, but it seems they were invited to accompany the politicians and they fotgot to turn on the "Auto Pilot".

Oh, I forgot the situation after the recent rainy days ... I wouldn't spoil my evening, and I do not want to divert into another topic ... but in my opinion, the situation in Dubai is pathetic, extremely!

emirates fan said...

Hi, I'm a long time reader of blogs about the UAE, but I don't really comment much, but zafar got me thinking [aside from the sharp words like 'terrorist', and 'demand']. I think the whole road closure and holiday thing was the emirates doing, not W's. I've never heard of him closing down other entire cities just for a visit [although, yes, if he was that arrogant, he should be denied]. It sounds like something the RTA might pull. I suppose if he would trust a motorcade in Ramallah and the KSA he would in Dubai. But I digress, because I don't really know. 2 cents, and all that. Keep up the blogging!

Priya Fernandes said...

Since this is about life in Dubai, regrettably, it is shocking that selection and reward is based on nationality in this part of the world. This is not only detrimental to the department but also to the employer, the economy, the city, its reputation, etc.
Instead of showing loyalty and allegiance to one's employer and the economy of this city, people are waging fanatical patriotic cold wars in Dubai. Nationalism is so fierce in Dubai and all it needs to raise its deadly head is a prick here or there. This is apparent everywhere, no wonder the service is so deplorable in Dubai simply because, when NEPOTISM enters, ACCOUNTABILITY exists!!!
I have noticed this major debilitating flaw in all local and international banks in Dubai.
I have rarely noticed this backward mentality in the West and no wonder they are far more advanced in all spheres of life.
Nothing further to add cause i am just disgusted!!!

John Beckett said...

I was just eating at a restaurant with my pals and saw a western family desperately waving at 5 taxis and none of them stopped, that is 7 taxis!!! Isn't that shocking??? I guess not, since this is the service that Dubai offers to its visitors and tourists.
I felt so bad for them, so bad for Dubai and its reputation. Three taxis were Arabia taxi, one was Metro, the other two were Cars Taxi. It is a well established fact that RTA is synonymous with utter indifference, non-professionalism, and a lackadaisical condescending attitude. On second thoughts, i think it is a blessing in disguise for this western family because these taxis stink to a nauseating extent with the drivers' suffocating FLATUS.

ZeTallGerman said...

My colleague's wife went into labour on Tuesday morning... her husband had to "argue" with a policeman at a roadblock for over 10min to allow them take the blocked but direct route to the hospital! Where are we here, the former Soviet Union?!? Jeez... Also, commenting on the RTA busses: the article also mentioned a lady saying that she's harassed and groped regularly... one of the main reasons I once took a public bus in Dubai many years ago, and NEVER again.