Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Self-service looms



I was reminded of an anecdote told by a young English woman who grew up here in the Sandlands, learned to drive and survive on the highways of the Emirates. On a trip back to Britain she hired a car, coped with driving on the left quite admirably and was only flummoxed when the car ran out of petrol.

She had never before been compelled to fill her tank at a self-service station, no idea how to even begin refuelling her car.

Now there are moves to introduce self-service at filling stations in the UAE. From yesterday's Gulf News this:

Jean-Marc Suter, a Swiss businessman, said almost all petrol stations in Europe had self-service terminals. "In the UAE it is a very convenient service having attendants. There is also the additional service - attendants clean the windscreen. I certainly would not want the stations here to become self-service," he said.

Shahina Ajmal, a Pakistani, who has been driving in the UAE for the past 17 years, said: "I don't think too many women would like to leave their cars to fill petrol when the stations are crowded. Children also may decide to get out of the car, and this is an additional problem. I don't think self-service petrol stations are a good idea because many people may not know how to refuel their cars. This will raise the question of safety. Only trained staff should refuel because it can be a dangerous operation."

Hussain Al Saeedi, an Emirati IT professional, however, welcomed the idea. "But too many people may not like this. Unlike in the West, people here are not very educated and hence they may find it difficult to accept such a self-service system. If the company gives handsome discounts for self-service, people may opt for it. Otherwise it may not work," he said.

The comments I've highlighted in colour do show what a very different motoring culture we're dealing with here, one which includes those whose thinking betrays often sublime innocence and even blithe ignorance.

Update:
One must presume that ignorance and blatant incompetence is behind today's horrifying accident on SZR at Ghantoot, involving no fewer than two hundred vehicles, ninety-two of which went up in flames.
Eight people have been killed and 141 injured after the devastating pile up on the Abu Dhabi-Dubai highway on Tuesday morning. Eye-witnesses and emergency workers said the cars smashed into each other in thick fog at around 6.45 am (0245 GMT) on the Dubai-bound side of Sheikh Maktoum bin Rashid Road.

1 comment:

Keefieboy said...

The stuff about self-service: when I was 16/17 I was a pump attendant. When I was 47 I went back to the UK and could not understand how to work the self-service pumps.

The carnage on the SZR is just beyond belief.