ABU DHABI // New parking fees and fines will be "introduced and enforced" in the capital from next month, the Department of Transport said yesterday. The department said in a press release that it planned to roll out new parking policies, which would include metered parking in the city centre. It warned there would be "rigorous enforcement" of its new rules, although it did not go into detail about when or where meters would be switched on, or when drivers would start being charged and fined.
Both private and public parking spaces will be more tightly regulated, with the aim of encouraging drivers to stay for only a short time in busy city centre parking spots. The first solar-powered meters were installed on Hamdan Street nearly three years ago, but they have lain unused until recently. Last month, DoT staff began testing the devices, inserting coins and swiping credit cards. Drivers will be able to pay for parking by text message, with a credit card or by pre-paid smart card, although the cost has not been disclosed.
The British company NCP Services, now called NSL Services Group, was hired last year to set up and manage the parking programme for the city centre and part of Airport Road. Paid parking will be introduced in 10 stages over two-and-a-half years, with a total of 2,500 meters to be switched on. The first year will see the recruitment and training of enforcement officers, the issuing of residents' permits and a media campaign.
A transition period, during which offenders will be warned but not fined, is expected, but beyond this, repeat offenders risk having their vehicles clamped, towed away or impounded. A contact centre and parking shop where drivers can buy permits and pay fines is to be opened. Paid parking will eventually apply from the Corniche to Hazza bin Zayed Street between Khaleej al Arabi Road and the road that runs in front of Abu Dhabi Mall, as well as the strip from Hazza bin Zayed to Al Saada Street between Al Karamah Street and Fourth Street.
Mr Najeeb al Zarooni, the DoT's parking director, said the system should not be seen as "a silver bullet" that would immediately solve the capital's parking headaches, which partly stem from a growing number of vehicles registered. "But we believe that positive impacts of the programme will begin to be felt by both drivers and residents before the year end," he added. Longer term, the DoT said yesterday it was looking for city centre sites for public car parks, either above or below ground. Temporary car parks may be erected initially.