ABU DHABI // It has been only a week since more than 10,000 parking spots came under the Mawaqif parking management scheme but already residents and businesses in the city are feeling the benefits.
The Khalidiya area, where there are 1,650 paid parking spots, has seen the most significant improvement.
Illegally parked vehicles have been cleared from the area and cars can now freely move through the once heavily congested roads of inner Khalidiya.
"Our customers are much more comfortable," said Abdullah al Ayoubi, the store manager of Tripoli Sweets, located on one of the Khalidiya inner streets. He said customers "used to come here in a hurry, worrying about getting fined for parking their cars illegally".
He added: "Sometimes they would even make their order from their cars and we'd have to deliver it to them."
Although re-routing generated 450 parking spots, what has had the greatest impact in the area is the new 38,400-square-metre car park.
The new scheme has provided Khalidiya residents and visitors with 1,200 new parking spaces.
Sherine Yaghi, a Khalidiya resident from the Palestinian territories, said her resident parking permit was worth every dirham. “It’s so easy for me to find parking now,” she said. “I used to spend at least one hour searching for a parking spot. Now, I find one very quickly. Even if I can’t find a spot right under my building, I can park in the huge parking lot across the street.”
An additional 3,729 parking bays came under the Mawaqif scheme on Saturday, in two adjacent areas stretching from Defence Road to Delma Street along Airport Road.
However, residents and businesses in that area say they have yet to feel the impact. Several cars continue to park illegally in the area – whether it is against the yellow and grey kerbstones or in the middle of a parking area.
“It’s still difficult for me to find parking, sometimes I have to make three or four rounds,” said Safi Abdul Aziz, a resident from Syria who lives in Airport Road. “But I’ve heard that it hasn’t officially been enforced yet and that it will be in the next few days. I’m optimistic things will improve then,” he said. “I have my resident’s permit ready for when they do.”
Meanwhile, businesses in the area said the implementation of Mawaqif had pros and cons. Extending the paid parking hours to 10pm had also proved helpful.
“The good news is it makes life easier for our customers,” said Yazed Iyad Bennihami, salesman at Lights Gallery. “The bad news is it means we have to start paying for parking. We asked Mawaqif if we can get a special commercial permit, but they told us we’re not eligible.”
In the area near the International School of Choueifat and Al Mushrif Ladies’ and Children’s Garden, there are now 3,009 paid parking spots.
Teachers at Choueifat said having Mawaqif on school grounds is “unnecessary”, adding that they must now either park elsewhere or pay the Dh2 hourly fees or Dh15 daily fees.
“Parking here was never really a problem,” said Areej Daloul, a mathematics teacher. “Have you ever seen paid parking implemented on school grounds?”
Ms Daloul said teachers are now parking in a car park about a five to 10-minute walk from the school, where Mawaqif has yet to be implemented.
“We’ve complained to the school, requesting that teachers get special permits,” she said. “They informed us they are in talks with Mawaqif, but I doubt anything will happen.”
During pick-up and drop-off hours, parents and family members can be seen quickly dashing to and from the school car park without stopping to pay.
“If you’re going to pick up your child I’m sure it’s not a problem,” said a security guard at the school gates. “After all, how many cars can they fine all at once?”
Mawaqif policy allows for a 10-minute grace period from the time a car is parked, or after the ticket expires.
Finally, 1,711 parking spots came under a Mawaqif-managed scheme in the area adjacent to Sheikh Khalifa Park, near the Ministry of Labour, Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Abu Dhabi Police headquarters. Those parking spots are free, according to Mawaqif, as there is a surplus of available parking spaces.