Dubai offers cheap biofuel to power traditional Abras from July

The traditional Abras in Dubai Creek ferry around 13 million riders annually Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Dubai’s traditional Abras can be powered with biofuel from July, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) the RTA announced on Sunday.

RTA said it has designated a station at Sabkha Marine Transport Station for supplying biofuel (Biodiesel 5) to traditional Abras operating on Dubai Creek, as of July this year.

This decision has been taken following the successful trial operation last year where five traditional Abras used to be powered by Biodiesel 5, which is officially certified in the UAE, in collaboration with ENOC Group, the authority said in a press release.

Discounted price

“To encourage traditional Abra operators to use the biofuel for their Abras, we offered them a discounted price for biodiesel, compared with the price of regular diesel, in coordination with ENOC Group,” stated Mohammed Abu Bakr Al Hashmi, director of Marine Transport, Public Transport Agency, RTA.

“This initiative stems from RTA’s standing commitment to have a vital role in implementing the UAE Green Growth Strategy, and accordingly contribute to the fruition of the UAE Vision 2021. The initiative is based on using clean and environmentally-friendly biofuel to reduce the carbon footprint and harmful emissions to protect the public health.”

No negative effects

Al Hashimi further said: “We had implemented the procedures required to measure the results of using biofuel to power traditional Abras compared with the use of regular diesel.”

For this purpose, RTA had powered the same traditional Abras by biodiesel and regular diesel alternately.

“The results were positive and no negative effects were recorded on the engines as a result of using biofuels. ENOC Group had appointed a specialised company as a neutral party to evaluate the results of the experiment,” said Al Hashimi.

“The use of biofuel to power traditional Abras of the private sector operating on Dubai Creek is optional. However, with the discount on the price of biofuels, courtesy of ENOC Group, we expect Abra operators to opt for clean fuel. It is confirmed that RTA would not bear any expenses in this regard,” he added.

Great benefits

Research indicates that the use of biodiesel reduces the number of unburned hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide emissions, fine particles, and sulphate gas as well as reduction of the PAH gas, a cancer antigen.

There are 148 traditional Abras operated by the private sector on two lines at Dubai Creek.

They ferry about 13 million riders annually (90 percent of the total number of marine transport riders in Dubai). The existing fleet of traditional Abras uses 30hp diesel engines that consume 1.1 million litres of diesel per annum.