News headlines

Excerpts from UAE Dailies


Dubai - Jul 17:
Motorists were in a buoyant mood yesterday as Dubai’s latest Creek crossing, the floating bridge, eased their journey to work.  The six-lane, Dh81.5 million bridge opened for the first time at 6am and was generally welcomed. It is built of hollow concrete blocks that float on water and can be opened to let boats pass.

Traffic flow on nearby Al Maktoum Bridge was notice ably better than previously as the new crossing eased congestion. Al Maktoum Bridge saw an increase in vehicle numbers following the launch of the Salik road toll system as people used it to avoid the Al Garhoud Bridge pay point. Motorists reported that Shindagha Tunnel was also less busy than normal during peak hours yesterday.

“Al Maktoum Bridge was very free compared to other days,” said Josephine Rosel, 28, from the Philippines.

“The situation has definitely improved from the difficul ties there were following the introduction of Salik.

“Many people are still not aware of the new bridge and as soon as more people start using it, the situation will hopefully be better still.” Indian lawyer Shamasuddin Karunagapalli, 43, said he managed to reach Al Qusais from Dubai Courts in just 10 minutes using the new floating bridge.

“It’s great,” he said. “My travel time has been greatly reduced – I usually take 30 minutes to reach Al Qusais. I saw the signboard to the bridge but was quite hesitant to use it. But it was practically empty with a smooth traffic flow.” The floating bridge looked deserted until 10am and traffic picked up only later as word spread that it had opened. Some motorists said they learned of the opening from roadside signs while others were unaware of it until they approached their usual crossing – Al Maktoum Bridge.

And some drivers said they encountered jams after crossing the Roads and Transport Authority’s new bridge.

Indian Gopal Srinivasan, 40, said he was stuck for 45 minutes in a bottleneck near Deira City Centre.

“The floating bridge’s approach roads and the exits leading to Sharjah and Deira have to be improved,” he said.

The bridge is the first of its type in the region.

It stretches from Deira City Centre to Riyadh Street between Dubai Courts and Creek Park and can accommodate about 6,000 vehicles during peak periods.

It is open from 6am to 10pm daily.


Air India gives discount to amnesty users

UAE - JUL 17:
Air India has announced discounted fares for illegal workers returning home under the amnesty programme.  Under the scheme a ticket to Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh costs Dh790 while flights to Calicut or Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala are Dh690. Travel to New Delhi or Mumbai costs Dh590.

“Our amnesty fares are 25 per cent less than the market rate,” said Air India’s Regional Manager Jayasree Ramachandran.  But even the reduced fares are too high for some.

Raveendran Reddy, an illegal worker from Andhra Pradesh, said: “More than 80 per cent of the out passes issued by the Indian mission are for migrants from my state. The amnesty airfare to Hyderabad is the highest.” Rival airline Indian is expected to announce a range of amnesty fares.

However, travel agents say cheaper tickets are available from other carriers.

Budget airlines Air India Express, Air Arabia and Sri Lanka’s Mihir Airline are offering comparable


‘Dead’ man’s hope rests in amnesty

DUBAI — JUL 17: His family and friends thought he was dead. Then his friends found him admitted in a hospital. Today, all that Alle Rajeshwar longs for is to return home to India, as early as possible, courtesy amnesty.

The 25-year-old man now spends his time in a cramped room in Deira along with 15 others. One problem that is bogging him infinitely is his inability to pay for his return ticket.

Rajeshwar’s woes began the day he met with an accident in Sharjah Industrial area on April 11 this year.

According to his friend Ganesan, he was hit by a car while he crossing road on a bicycle. Some of his friends hailing from his village, who also live in Sharjah, happened to witness the incident and saw the police ambulance carrying his body covered in a pool of blood.

They presumed he was dead. “Soon they informed his family in Hyderabad that Rajeshwar was no more,” Ganesan added.

“Rajeswar’s family, which includes his aged parents, wife and a child were devastated to learn about his death. They started calling us to help repatriate his body to India,” Ganesan added.

“We went to all the hospitals and morgues in Dubai and Sharjah but we failed to trace his body for over two weeks. We even informed his family that we had failed to locate his body,” Ganesan said.

“Finally, we found him admitted in Sharjah’s Al Qassimi Hospital. But after he left the hospital, he has been struggling to find money for treatment,” said Ganesan.

Now living as an illegal, Rajeshwar said: “After leaving the hospital I never went there back, even though I needed further treatment. I did not have any money. Now, I hope to return to India using the golden opportunity of amnesty.”


Major construction sites in Dubai will have their own fire stations

DUBAI — JUL 17: The Dubai Civil Defence Department has set a new rule under which all major construction sites would be required to have their own fire stations, a top Civil Defence official said yesterday.

Brigadier General Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, Director of Dubai Civil Defence, told the media after visiting Burj Dubai that the mandatory fire station rule for mega construction projects would be implemented with immediate effect. “We will decide the sites required for the fire stations according to the size and number of people working on the project. All the new projects being developed by Emaar, Nakheel and Dubai Holdings have fire stations which are being manned by Dubai Civil Defence,” Matrooshi observed.

“Dubai Civil Defence officials and safety inspectors working at Burj Dubai will soon conduct a mega fire drill. A large number of personnel from both the sides will take part in the drill. It will help us to familiarise with the site and take necessary precautionary measures in the event of fire,” he said.

Mohammed Moizuddin, Health and Safety Manager at Burj Dubai, gave a presentation for the Civil Defence officials who visited the site to inspect the safety standards. “I am extremely impressed with the safety standard here,” Matrooshi said after the visit.

According to Mohammed Moizuddin, more than 50 safety personnel representing different construction companies involved in the project are taking care of the building at the moment educating workers about fire safety standards and what measures to be taken in the event of a fire. The team is also conducting fire drills from time to time in order to gauge the preparedness of its work force numbering nearly 6,000.

“On the other hand, Burj Dubai, the building which will soon become the tallest tower in the world has 1,210 fire extinguishers of different types including 5kg, 10kg and 20kg units at different levels of the building apart from water tanks of various capacities, including 5,000 gallons and 10,000 gallons,” he said.

“The entire building has more than five assembly points for all the workers to gather in an emergency situation. It is monitored all day and night by Close Circuit Television Cameras and hidden cameras and smoking has been strictly prohibited. Six big size fire alarms have been installed to alert the workers in case of an emergency. The fire alarms are so powerful that people can hear the alarm sound up to a distance of five kilometres from the site. More than 1,200 fire extinguishers have also been put up inside the building,” he added. “People need not run to the ground floor in case a fire breaks out. There will be refugee zones at various levels, where people can wait for rescue, “ he said.

Moizuddin said that there have been only two casualties ever since the construction work of the building began in 2005.

Burj Dubai is at the heart of Downtown Burj Dubai, a Dh73 billion mixed-use project featuring residences, commercial space, hospitality projects and several retail outlets, including The Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping and entertainment destinations. The tower which has more than 130 floors at the moment is due for completion in 2008.


Dubai - Battered to death

Dubai - Jul 17: Three men killed their friend before throwing his body under a bus to make the killing look like an accident, police have disclosed.
The three, all Indian nationals working in Dubai, killed their compatriot after a drinking session at their Jebel Ali accommodation.

Police said that following a disagreement just under a week ago, the men battered their Indian victim with a piece of wood until he was fatally injured. To cover up their crime they then got hold of his corpse and tossed it under a bus as it came to a stop near their accommodation block.

When police were called to the scene, they were suspicious of the events surrounding the man’s death and carried out a detailed investigation into the alleged accident. Although told that the man had been killed in the collision with the lorry, detectives found suspicious patterns of blood on the walls near to where the corpse was found trapped under the wheels of the truck.

After further investigations, police questioned the three suspects and arrested them in connection with the killing of their colleague. The murder weapon was also discovered close to the scene of the crime as police conducted a thorough search of the area with sniffer dogs.

All three men have reportedly confessed to the killing and are being held in custody in Dubai, a police spokesman said yesterday. The four had been drinking alcohol together when an argument got out of hand leading to the deadly fight, one of the suspects reportedly told interviewing officers.

During the fight, the victim was repeatedy beaten around the head with the lump of wood until he was dead. He was then thrown under the bus to make it appear that he had died accidentaly. A file on the case is being prepared by the Public Prosecution department who will refer the incident to the courts.

The identity of the man, who was found with no papers on him, has been discovered, but not yet released. The Indian Consulate has been informed of the death and are attempting to contact his family members in his home country.



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