ABU DHABI // Drivers are being given a pleasant surprise when they pay their Mawaqif fines early - a 25 per cent discount.
A day after Khaled Mohammed, 47, was fined Dh500 fine for double parking his Honda on Hazza Street near Al Wahda Mall, he visited the Mawaqif Customer Care Centre at Marina Mall to dispute his ticket.
"I was not blocking a parked car, nor was I blocking access to any of the streets," the Lebanese resident said. "There was simply no place to park. It's not as though there was an available parking spot and I chose to ignore it."
According to Mawaqif policies, tickets can be disputed provided within 14 days of being issued.
Mr Mohammed said the customer service staff were friendly and he was asked to fill in an appeal form.
"I was told the dispute would take a couple of weeks to process, and that should I choose to pay my fine within two weeks, I could receive a 25 per cent discount on the fee," he said.
Familiar with the low success rate of disputed tickets, Mr Mohammed chose to pay up and save Dh125.
According to the Department of Transport (DoT), Mawaqif's governing authority, the discount has been available to Mawaqif users since the implementation of the scheme in 2009. The discount is available to those who apply within 15 days of receipt. The purpose of the discount, DoT officials said, is to motivate people to pay their fines in a timely manner, and the discount is a permanent offer.
Many residents say they have only recently started taking advantage of the discount, with many completely unaware that it existed. However, the fine reduction is clearly mentioned on the back of the tickets issued to offenders.
"I was a little surprised to hear this since the last time I paid my fine, which was about one week after I received the ticket, I didn't get a 25 per cent discount," Mr Mohammed said.
Nawar Mahmoud, a Palestinian resident in Abu Dhabi, said: "I had no idea. I even asked a Mawaqif officer and he said he didn't know anything about this."
Ms Mahmoud, who lives near Grand Stores in Khalidiya, where more than 1,600 parking spaces were recently added to the Mawaqif scheme, said a search for parking in the late evening could take 45 minutes.
"My mother double-parked once and she immediately received a Dh500 ticket," she said. "So we never double-parked again."
Mawaqif users can pay their fines at one of the four customer care service centres in the city, with future plans to allow motorists to pay their fines through the Mawaqif website and the Abu Dhabi traffic department. DoT officials said there was no penalty for a delayed fine payment, but they are making arrangements with Abu Dhabi traffic police to ensure that car registration is not permitted until all parking-related fines have been paid.
A Mawaqif customer care representative said although there was no official deadline for the payment of fines, any that remain unpaid within three months will be registered with traffic police and must be paid when renewing vehicle registration.
An accumulated number of unpaid fines could also lead to the vehicle being impounded. For example, an accumulation of five unpaid violations for parking without a ticket or permit, a Dh200 offence, could result in impoundment.
Exceeding the time limit on the parking ticket, a Dh100 offence, or occupying two parking spaces with a single vehicle, a Dh300 offence, can also result in the vehicle being towed if the owner accumulates more than five unpaid tickets.