DUBAI-The Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) launched Awnak service on May 17th; which is dedicated to transport the disabled, seniors and patients not suffering emergency conditions that warrant hailing ambulance vehicles to lift them to hospitals. The service is considered the first of its type in the region and the third worldwide after the UK and Ireland.
Dr. Yousef Al Ali, CEO of RTA Public Transport Agency, said: “The launch of this service signals the huge attention accorded by the RTA to various community segments including the disabled and elderly who have full rights and duties. All community members are required to care for these segments and provide them with all services to meet their needs and protect their rights as active individuals.”
“The design of Awnak vehicles combines the design of a taxi and an ambulance vehicle in a way that meets the standards approved by the RTA and competent bodies. About 10 vehicles are being deployed during the initial phase of the service and about 20 drivers are being hand-picked after undergoing training courses in how to deal with various cases. The service performance will be closely monitored over three months and if it proves successful and up to the standard, more vehicles will be deployed in future,” continued Al Ali.
“The RTA is keen on providing an advanced process and a comprehensive database for a booking & dispatch system enabling the dispatch of vehicles to the concerned parties. Another system was also set up for tracking and the geographical positioning of vehicles as these vehicles are intended to serve targeted categories in Dubai Emirate,” he said.
“Awnak service serves patients who have undergone surgical procedures in hospitals and required to have a rest at home, patients assessed by physicians and referred to hospitals for further treatment, and medical cases that require to be transferred from one hospital to another based on a medical recommendation. It is also aimed to serve patients intending to go hospitals or clinics from and to their domiciles to meet a doctor, in addition to the elderly and the disabled whose mobility requires vehicles fitted with specific specifications.
“The RTA attaches top priority to the disabled as inculcates in its plans the realization of the initiative of HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of the Executive Council (My Community .. A Place for All) aimed at transforming the entirety of Dubai into a disabled-friendly city by 2020 through undertaking a host of initiatives and activities to boost this drive. In this regard the RTA was keen to recruit about 13 disabled individuals in various departments and agencies by 2013, offer multiple exemptions in connection with the services provided by the RTA to this category highlighted by the exemption from paying parking fees, and the fees of salik / blue nol cards in addition to the fees of vehicle licensing and registration. During the design of various transit means (metro, taxi and buses) RTA pays attention to delivering of services that assist the mobility of these categories in a smooth and safe manner.
“The number of Salik permits issued by the RTA for the disabled from 2011 to the end of 2013 amounted to 4591 permits. The RTA also issued to this category about 264 Blue Nol Cards from 2011 to 2013, 3217 parking permits, and 88 driving permits for the disabled,” said the Al Ali in a final remark.
Paul Wells, Chief Executive Officer of Non Emergency Transport Services (NETS), said: “NETS is a powerful and unique healthcare transport choice never seen before in the Middle East. The combination of state of the art vehicles, highly trained Transport Care Attendants and efficient booking and dispatch systems ensures people and patients are at all times safe, secure and consistently offered high levels of service. NETS is a healthcare choice for people who need to attend hospital and clinical appointments, rehabilitation and therapy appointments, and wheelchair assistance, Our aim is to introduce an innovative transport service to the healthcare industry of Dubai and beyond.”