ABU DHABI // Beginning on Sunday, motorists will have to pay to park in more than 4,000 formerly free parking spots in the capital.
The Mawaqif parking meters will be switched on in the King Khalid bin Walid street area, which is adjacent to the British Embassy compound and Khaleej al Arabi street, as well as the Corniche and Electra Street. The move will add 4,427 paid parking spaces to the more than 17,000 already in operation.
Mawaqif, the Department of Transport's paid parking programme, is one year old. The general manager of Mawaqif, Najib al Zarooni, said the scheme had increased the number of vacant parking spaces in the areas where it is operating. "Since our launch, the Department of Transport has been extending continuous efforts gradually to increase Mawaqif parking capacity ... in a bid to ease the parking problems in some of Abu Dhabi's most congested areas, which suffer from lack of parking spaces and illegal parking behaviours," Mr al Zarooni said in a statement.
On Sunday, he spelt out some of the causes of the shortage of parking in the city, including drivers using public spaces as permanent parking bays. He added that there were problems of overcrowding, the result of people illegally sharing residences and of landlords ignoring the rules about how many parking spots there should be for each residence. "The municipality lays out a building-to-parking ratio, but before [Mawaqif was founded] no one paid attention to it," he said
He also acknowledged that the Mawaqif scheme had made it more difficult to find a place to park in free areas adjacent to paid parking zones. As a result, Mawaqif was being expanded faster than originally planned, an effort to alleviate the problem. Those living in Mawaqif-serviced areas can apply for residents' parking permits, which cost Dh800 for the first car and Dh1,200 for the second. There is a limit of two permits for each address, which has created problems for multi-vehicle families and those who live in divided villas.