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More departments join DM Car Free Day drive

Sajila Saseendran / 7 February 2011

Dubai Municipality will observe its second Car Free Day on Wednesday and the initiative will see more government employees swapping cars for public transport this time.

Around 2,500 officials and employees from the Dubai Municipality headquarters and its neighbouring offices of Dubai Land Department, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and etisalat are expected to take part in the environmental initiative in cooperation with the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

DM observed the first Car Free Day on February 17 in 2010 with an aim to show an example by using mass transport and thereby reducing air pollution caused by carbon emission from individual cars. Transport sector contributes to 42 per cent of the air pollution in the emirate and each vehicle generates 110 to 250 grammes of carbon dioxide per kilometre, according to DM’s Environment Department. In total, more than one million cars plying on Dubai roads produce over 23.3million kilograms of carbon dioxide each day.

About 1500 DM officials and employees left their cars back home and opted for Dubai Metro and buses to work on DM’s first Car-Free Day. Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the Municipality, said on Sunday that the initiative saved the environment from three tonnes of carbon dioxide emission.

“So, we decided that this year we will expand [the scope of the initiative] to our neighbours…In future, we are also expecting the private sector to join us,” Lootah said at a Press conference.

In reply to a question by Khaleej Times on chances of clubbing DM’s Car Free Day to RTA’s Free Public Transport Day on November 1 to ensure more participation of the public, Lootah said the aim of the DM initiative had more to do with education of people than the cost factor involved. He said people could save more money by using public transport and also gain awareness on alternative means of transport. “The idea is to educate them about the benefits of public transport and how to use the Metro, buses and abras. Some [of the government employees] have never been to the Metro or used a bus,” Lootah noted.

Later, he explained that DM would not be fixing the Car-Free Day on a particular day, though it would continue to hold the initiative every year. “We will observe it on one of the days close to the UAE National Environment Day [which falls on February 4]. In future, we want more participation from private entities like banks, hotels and everyone,” he said.

The municipality will close all its parking lots on Wednesday and several senior officials including Lootah will take the Metro to reach office.

Ghanim Ali Al Marri, deputy general manager, Dubai region, of etisalat, said around 500 employees working at its office near the municipality would take part in the initiative. “We hope we can expand it to our other branches in Dubai and other emirates in future,” he said. 

 sajila@khaleejtimes.com

 
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