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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

Awareness campaigns must accompany parking changes

The fact that more than 200 cars have been towed shows that information has not trickled down

A cars being towed at the sand parking lot in front of Twofour54 Building 6. Victor Besa / The National
A cars being towed at the sand parking lot in front of Twofour54 Building 6. Victor Besa / The National

The objectives of Abu Dhabi Department of Transport’s illegal parking crackdown – to curb random parking, help avoid congestion and ease traffic flow – are laudable and necessary. All Abu Dhabi residents are aware of the hazards of driving in the capital, and parking is no different.

But the fact that more than 200 cars have been towed from sandlots in Abu Dhabi in the past few days is a clear sign that public information on the issue has not trickled down to motorists themselves.

As of September 7, drivers have been required to pay for parking in all public spaces in Abu Dhabi island, although the spate of towing and ticketing followed the conclusion of a three-week amnesty last week. In the absence of other options, many motorists are now forced to walk from more distant car parks.

Well-enforced parking rules are a standard part of life in major modern cities, but people need to be informed and given clear rules to follow. Most people who live and work in Abu Dhabi have no say over where their office is located and do not expect to have to factor high parking fees into their daily commute.

Moreover, public transport in Abu Dhabi, which has improved considerably in recent years, is not yet at a stage where people can rely on it to get everywhere they need to go.

Motorists will eventually become accustomed to the new parking rules, as they have to the elimination of the speed buffer in Abu Dhabi – a measure that has already made the emirate’s busy highways safer. That change was, however, accompanied by a long and comprehensive public-awareness campaign that left drivers in no doubt of the new law.

It is, therefore, incumbent on authorities and employers to ensure that new parking regulations are thoroughly understood by motorists. Because in a city constructed around the automobile, having your car towed is enough to drive anyone round the bend.