region Analysis: Shaking things up and making them worse

region Analysis: Shaking things up and making them worse

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By agency

Published: Tue 12 Mar 2013, 9:47 AM

Last updated: Thu 12 Mar 2015, 2:46 PM

Dubai — A shortage of Salik cards has hit retail outlets and convenience stores in petrol pumps across Dubai and Sharjah. There is a reported shortage of these cards in Ajman.
“In the last two weeks, suppliers haven’t given us a single card. Due to the shortage of the vouchers and cards people commuting from Sharjah to Dubai on a daily basis are not able to recharge their Salik tags,” said A Rafeek, a supermarket salesman in Sharjah. “Not everyone uses the Salik app or e-recharge services. This shortage has affected people who do not have access to smart phone and website recharge services,” he added. The e-vouchers service, launched in August 2014, has not been made available to several stores across Dubai and Sharjah. Retail outlets like Spinneys and Zoom Supermarket in Dubai have also reported a shortage of both, e-vouchers and recharge cards.
A salesman at Spinneys in Al Barsha confirmed that there is a definite shortage of recharge cards. “We’ve had a shortage for the last three weeks and we’ve not received the e-voucher machines from RTA, as well. However, we’ve received instructions that the voucher system will be made available soon,” he said. Supermarket outlets like Choithram are still selling whatever cards are left over.
An unnamed official at the RTA has confirmed that the cards were not being sold anymore. “The RTA is looking to become more environmentally conscious. That is the reason we stopped distributing recharge cards,” said the official. The official clarified that RTA wants to do away with recharge cards and encourage people to use e-vouchers instead. In August 2014, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) had launched e-vouchers, replacing Salik cards and it was made available in over 3,000 retail outlets across the UAE. According to an earlier report, the service was made in partnership with Axiom Telecom and people could use e-vouchers in line with how du and etisalat recharge top-ups were bought.
However, these e-voucher machines were not made available to many smaller retail outlets, and they were still dependant on Salik cards. There is also a shortage of these cards in convenience stores in petrol pumps, according to Rafeek.
Many of the vendors Khaleej Times spoke to said sale of Salik vouchers and cards give them a very low profit margin and this is one of the reasons they shy away from using e-voucher machines. “The shortage struck us two weeks ago,” said another grocery shop owner in Sharjah. “When we sell a Salik card worth Dh100, we make a profit of 50 fils. Most smaller retail outlets were shying away from selling these cards because there is no profit. But in the last two weeks, we haven’t had any distributor come to us with the cards,” said the vendor.
The five Salik toll gates across Dubai earned approximately Dh1.6 billion in 2014, according to a source at the RTA. The Safa and Barsha toll gates witnessed 800,000 riders in each of the toll gates and the Gharoud toll gate saw a ridership of one million people everyday.

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