Extended parking time raises concern

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Extended parking time raises concern

ABU DHABI - After the special parking concessions of Ramadan and the three-day Eid Al Fitr holiday, Mawaqif rules will again apply, but thewy will not be exactly back to what they were before.

By Aisha Tariq

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Published: Tue 21 Aug 2012, 12:56 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 1:03 PM

Last month, Abu Dhabi’s parking management announced that paid-parking timing would be extended from 9pm to midnight from Saturday until Thursday immediately after the Eid Al Fitr holidays. The 8am starting time of paid parking will, however, remain the same.

The move raises concerns among both residential permit holders and those who pay hourly rates. In areas where parking is open to visitors during the day and restricted to residents at night, residents fear that they will have to wait an additional three hours to find parking spaces near their homes.

Even under the previous timings, a permit holder who lives in the congested Tourist Club district described the daily attempt to find parking at night as “an absolute nightmare”. He had heard that changes were under way, but was unaware of the new post-Eid timings as recently as one week before their implementation. “This is obviously a big concern because if people can park late until midnight, where do the residents go?” he said upon learning of the change.

During the announcement of the new paid-parking timings last month, Mohamed Nasser Al Otaiba, General Manager of Mawaqif at the Department of Transport, emphasised that the change was being made to conform to public preferences, as determined by customer feedback from Mawaqif-administered areas. “We took this decision based on the continuous requests from residents who want to receive their guests a little bit later in their homes and from people who go to commercial areas,” he said.

Good and bad

The Tourist Club permit holder sees the merit in this argument, but is not convinced that it would improve the overall parking problem.

“It’s a good thing and a bad thing. If visitors are allowed to park only till 9pm, then I couldn’t host any dinner parties and guests would have to be shoved off early. But on the other hand, if they are allowed to park there till midnight, then what is going to happen to an already congested area where residents find it difficult to find parking anyway?” he muses.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s day or night, residents should be given the first priority.”

According to residential permit holder Mohammed Farooq, who lives in Al Markaziyah, the greater hardship falls on his guests. “I have a permit, so for me it’s okay,” he says, explaining that even if parking isn’t available near his apartment, he can usually find parking space one street across in the emptier lots near the Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company (ADMA) office buildings. “It’s difficult for the visitors. Now anyone who comes to see me will have to pay more.” When reminded that his guests would pay much heftier fees for parking in residential areas after the paid timings, he shrugged. “I think they’re just trying to make money.”

Not greedy

Mawaqif parking management has repeatedly tried to dispel this notion. “We’re not a profit-oriented organisation,” said Al Otaiba at last month’s announcement. “We are government-run and we provide service to the people.” He also refuted rumours that Mawaqif’s parking inspectors work on commission, pointing out cases where inspectors have actually paid out of their own pockets to help cash-strapped customers avoid fines.

Mawaqif fines range from Dh100 for lesser infractions, like exceeding the time paid for, to Dh1,000 for illegal actions, such as parking in taxi stands or bus stops.

Tourist Club resident Marvic has been postponing buying a Dh800 residential permit because of the fines she has accumulated for parking violations. The extended timings for paid parking will be another financial strain, she says. “It does bother me that I’m going to pay for three extra hours,” she admits. “In fairness, I think if I have a permit it will make things easier. But since I don’t, it’s very difficult for me right now.” Like Farooq, Marvic also often parks one block away from her home in the evenings.

More parking spots

According to Mawaqif that currently regulates 87,957 parking bays in Abu Dhabi, residential permits have been issued for only about 63 per cent of available spots. According to Al Otaiba, “We don’t have a shortage of residential parking, but we have areas where the level of demand is soon going to be equivalent to the number of parking lots, so we will be working aggressively for the next five years to provide extra 20,000 parking spots.”

As Mawaqif continues its work to make extra parking spots, Abu Dhabi residents continue their quest to find them. Extension of paid-parking time will increase options for visitors and shoppers, but residents fear an even lengthier displacement as they circle the streets at night, waiting for the empty space that will allow them to park and go home.

Mawaqif’s new paid parking timings, which will begin after the third day of Eid Al Fitr, will be from 8am to midnight.


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