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Mon 13 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Summer of discontent

Behind the shiny veneer of the Middle East's undoubted success in the logistics sector, a few cracks are starting to appear.

Behind the shiny veneer of the Middle East's undoubted success in the logistics sector, the last few months have seen a few cracks starting to appear.

In reading through this month's edition of Logistics Middle East, the casual observer could be forgiven for thinking that a thread of repetition runs through the pages. From the the letters to the analysis and the interviews, major industry players and experts are starting to drum a rhythm that Dubai's authorities would do well to note.

Congestion, both on the roads and in the ports, has been a crucial concern for logistics providers recently. Not only is the slow pace on the roads problematic from the viewpoint of slower delivery times, it also wastes increasingly expensive fuel and is environmentally unfriendly.

It is hard to escape the feeling that the response to congestion problems is reactive, instead of proactive, as by the time roads and networks are constructed, it is more than likely that new problems will already have hit home elsewhere.

The traffic at Jebel Ali has also been a cause for concern. Despite levelling a congestion charge along with already high rents, traffic has been so bad that some vessels have travelled to India before delivering their cargo on the return journey, an obvious problem for perishable forwarders.

To make matters worse, the pall of confusion that has hung over Dubai Logistics City since the change in the executive management earlier this year has not shifted.

Almost every supply chain professional interviewed by this magazine in the last three months has expressed doubt about the entity's vision and future direction. Some have even admitted to wondering whether a tenancy there is really worth it after all.

It's important to remember that Dubai is still something of a nascent sector, logistics-wise. But that won't hold up as an excuse for long. Instead, why not look at the naysayers' complaints as constructive criticism. Let's not forget that Dubai has some truly worldclass facilities and if organisations like DLC reach their potential, the sky is the limit.

So why not write an open letter to the potential tenants of DLC to explain exactly what the new management is up to, perhaps including a timeline of operations? Why not explore the possibility of putting a freeze on plot rents at Jafza?

The problems that Dubai is currently facing are a product of its past successes, and are by no means a pointer towards future failures, as long as the emirate's authorities can interact closer with the businesses plying their trade here.

If you have any comments to make on this month's issue, we would love to hear from you. Please send your views to logistics@itp.com

Ed Attwood is the deputy editor of Air Cargo Middle East & India.

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