Resident-only parking causes confusion
A decision by the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport (DoT) to restrict parking permits only to residents at night has caused public confusion and prompted charges that such a decision could obstruct tourism in the emirate.
Many residents of the city of nearly one million said they had sent letters or e mails to the DoT seeking help for the ordeal created by such a decision while some car rent firms said the DoT move could hit their business.
In a statement last week, DoT said its Mawaqif (parking) services would allow only resident permit holders to park in the specified areas from 9.00 pm to 8.00 am the next day without having to pay extra charges.
It said these permits would be given only to landlords, tenants or their first-of-kin relatives such as a father, mother, brother, sister, children and spouses with a maximum two permits per every household. It set annual fees for a resident permit at Dh800 for the first car and Dh1,200 for the second vehicle.
“I have e mail the DoT but have not received any response yet…I just need to know if I visit my friend in another area, where shall I park my car…..this is a real problem for me and for my friend,” said Husam Ali, an Abu Dhabi resident.
Another expatriate said he now faces a problem because of the new decision as his car is rented and is changed from time to time.
“This decision means that I will be given a permit to park my car in the area where I live…the permit is for the car I have now but what if I decided to change the car of the rental company changed it,” said Imad Kilani.
“What if my car has an accident and the rental company gives me a replacement…I need to know if I can change the permit without paying new fees…but this is not the problem because rented cars are changed regularly.”
Citizens and car rent firms said that DOT should give solutions to problems created by its resident only parking permits.
“I need to know where I should park my car under the new law as I cannot buy the permit for a few days nor I can park the vehicle outside the hotel,” said a Western man on a two-week visit to the UAE.
A key problem created by the new decision for the car rent companies is that most of them are obliged to give replacement to the customers against the original rented vehicle in case of a breakdown or accident.
“What shall I do if I get a replacement car against the originally hired vehicle in case of service or accident of the originally leased vehicle,” said an Abu Dhabi-based expatriate, who has a rented car.
A major car rent firm in the capital said it was worried about the absence of monitoring on the fines issued by DoT as this means it would not be able to collect the fine from the customer. The company said it could end up paying a large sum of money for these fines and this could result in losses for the firm.
“We cannot collect fines if there is no system to check the parking fines at the time when the customer off hires the company…fines by Mawaqif or the Municipality can not be tracked as they are not linked to traffic police, it said.
“Car rent services play a key role in promoting tourism in Abu Dhabi and the whole UAE…these restrictions could affect this role.”
DoT launched the paid parking project in the capital last year as part of an overall development plan for Abu Dhabi emirate, taking into consideration a steady growth in the population and the number of vehicles.
Official figures showed the Emirate’s total population stood at around 1.6 million in mid 2009, including nearly one million in Abu Dhabi city alone. The rest live in the oasis town of Al-Ain, the eastern region and other areas.
Police figures showed the emirate had nearly 728,900 cars at the end of September, an average of a car for every two persons.
More than 468,000 cars, including 389,000 private-owned vehicles, are based registered in Abu Dhabi city.
According to government data, Abu Dhabi has one of the highest population growth rates, averaging around five per cent annually in the past 10 years.
Experts attributed the rapid growth to the high birth rate among nationals, modest growth among expatriate residents and a surge in foreign influx during most of the 2000-2009 period due to the rise in oil prices.
Abu Dhabi has the largest economy in the UAE given its massive oil and gas production, with its nominal GDP standing at around Dh519.9 billion in 2008. It was expected to have dipped by about 10 per cent in 2009.
In a circular last month, the Central Bank said pproperty investors need to obtain prior approval of DoT if they want to get loans from local banks to ensure landlords would stick to rules regarding car parking.
“All banks and finance companies operating in the UAE are asked to cooperate with DoT in this regard…this measure is intended to support the Department’s strategy to tackle the car parking problem in the city,” the Central Bank said.
Newspapers said the Central Bank distributed the circular after receiving a letter from DoT about plans to issue a new decision on parking by developers.
“The letter disclosed that the Department is in the process of issuing a new decision requiring property developers to pay Dh50,000 in case they could not provide a parking space in their area.”
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