Parking woes continue in Abu Dhabi
Neighbourhoods lack sufficient parking spots, residents report sudden changes in regulations
Parking remains a major concern in the capital despite the construction of multi-storey parking facilities in some areas and a system that has been in place for more than six years, residents say.
Some residents are complaining about lack of parking spaces in areas that have lengthy construction projects, while others have begun to notice a sudden change in parking rules that have led to hefty fines and vehicles being towed.
Sarah Khan, a 26-year-old geo-modeller, is unable to find parking when she returns home from work. “I have to wait in my car and search for parking for more than an hour every day, and the situation is terrible in the evenings. So I often take a taxi when going out because I do not want the trouble of looking for another parking spot when I am back home,” Khan told Gulf News.
Khan lives in Al Markaziyah West, in a block that is bounded by Khalifa Bin Zayed the First Street, Hamdan Bin Mohammad Street and Shaikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street. In the 1990s, the Abu Dhabi Fish Market was situated in the block. Afterwards, it housed the New York University Abu Dhabi. Since the university moved to its new location on Saadiyat Island, another educational institution has moved into that premises.
“Since then, a number of parking spots have been blocked for exclusive use of the institution’s members. And, with another section blocked due to construction, we do not have any place to park. The situation is no better over the weekend either,” Khan explained.
Often, she is forced to park across the main road in the Corniche area and take a 15-minute walk back home. Many times, she has also had to double park her vehicle because she was in a rush to get home.
“With all the parking fines and the night-time parking fees, I pay an additional Dh1,000 each month, which is in itself an unnecessary burden. And of course there is no getting back the time I waste every day looking for a parking space,” Khan said.
She said a petition signed by building residents was submitted to the Mawaqif office last year. “We never received a response and, of course, the situation has not been resolved in any way,” Khan said.
Earlier this month, Luay M., an engineer in the oil and gas sector, realised, to his surprise, that his car had been towed after he had parked it in its usual spot in the block bounded by Hamdan Bin Mohammad Street, Khalifa Bin Zayed the First Street, Sultan Bin Zayed The First Street and Fatima Bint Mubarak Street. He also did not receive a message from Mawaqif to inform him of the incident.
“I do not have a resident permit, and was ecstatic to find a non-residential spot that is still Dh2 per hour, instead of the Dh3 that applies to commercial districts. It was also close to my house,” he said.
Parking spots designated for individuals who have a residential permit for the area are marked by a sign that clearly states which direction the rule applies to. This is usually emphasised using a blue line painted on the ground near the residential parking spaces. Residents who have paid for a yearly permit, costing Dh800 for the first car, can then park in these designated spots.
“Without warning, the sign had changed, and the spot where I had parked had suddenly been allocated only for residents with a permit. But there was no accompanying blue line on the ground, and so I had no idea of the change. After all, who reads the signs every day? We usually look for the blue line. For residents who are used to a certain rule, changing things overnight without a clear notice simply causes unnecessary trouble,” he said.
When the Jordanian expat went to Mawaqif to collect his car and file a complaint, employees agreed that a line should have been painted across the spaces to mark it as a residential spot. They also agreed that most drivers look for the painted line rather than the sign with the directions.
“They told me, however, that they had been receiving complaints from residents about the lack of residential parking in the block. So Mawaqif had decided to change the allocation of spaces. However, I believe that without prior warning, it unacceptable to make such a drastic change.”
Luay has yet to hear from Mawaqif on his complaint.