ABU DHABI // More than 3,700 parking bays in a crowded part of the capital will come under the Mawaqif paid-parking scheme from Saturday.
Shops are hoping this helps their clients to find a free spot and, thanks to extended Mawaqif hours, stay there longer.
Residents, on the other hand, are loath to lose free spots to the paid-parking system.
The capital's Department of Transport said yesterday that there will be 2,055 new paid spaces in the area bounded by Airport Road, Defence Road, Karama Street and Delma Street.
There will be another 1,674 spaces in the area between Airport Road, Defence Road, Muroor Road and Delma Street.
Paid parking will be enforced from 8am to 10pm except on Fridays. Rates will be Dh3 an hour with a four-hour maximum at premium spots, and Dh2 an hour with a 24-hour maximum for standard parking.
Paid hours in the two new areas will end at 10pm, an hour later than in most of the city, to accommodate local shops and businesses, said Ibrahim al Junaibi, the service co-ordination director at Mawaqif.
“This helps us resolve many issues,” Mr al Junaibi said. “Many residents come home late and can’t find any parking spots. Also, most shops close at 10pm and businesses were losing an hour every day between 9pm and 10pm because visitors had nowhere to park.”
Local businesses that have been suffering due to the parking shortages are looking forward to the implementation of the scheme.
For Saeed Khalid, a sales worker at Zia Restaurant, located across from Al Wahda Mall, the Mawaqif scheme cannot arrive soon enough.
“We don’t receive many customers because of these parking problems,” he said. “Even when we do, our customers don’t stay for long because many of them double park and are worried about receiving fines.”
Extending the paid parking hours also has businesses excited about the change.
Saiful Alam, a salesman at Al Warda Phones near the junction of Defence Road and Muroor Road, does not close shop until 11pm.
“The longer the paid parking hours, the better,” he said. “It means more parking for our customers for a longer time. It will encourage them to come here.”
The longer hours will eventually be implemented across other Mawaqif managed areas, Mr al Junaibi said.
Residents who carry permits, however, are not thrilled with the extended hours for visitors.
“Most of us finish work by 6pm and already can’t find parking when we go home,” said Mohammed Khan, a Pakistani who lives near Al Wahda Mall. “This will only make it worse.”
Electronic resident parking permits may be applied for at any Mawaqif customer care centre. Permit-holders will be exempt from hourly fees in designated resident-only parking areas between 10pm and 8am.
A maximum of two permits per household will be allotted, at a cost of Dh800 annually for the first permit and Dh1,200 for the second. The verification and processing of resident permits takes a minimum of three working days.
Parking is free during national holidays, and 45 minutes after the call to prayer. Cars parked illegally at any time will be subject to fines.
Mawaqif’s premium spots are identified by turquoise and white kerbs; standard spots by turquoise and black.
Mawaqif users are given a ten-minute grace period after their paid time expires.