x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Dh1,000 for using an ambulance bay or a fire hydrant

Penalties ranging from warnings to fines and impoundment face the capital's parking miscreants.

ABU DHABIi // Penalties ranging from warnings to fines and impoundment will give officers the legal teeth they will certainly need to convince the capital's parking miscreants that a new day has arrived. In fines, offenders will pay between Dh100 (US$28) and Dh1,000, depending on the severity of the offence. The complete fine structure is outlined in pamphlets being distributed in the first paid parking zone in the city, an area running from Liwa to Baniyas Streets and from Hamdan to Khalifa Streets.

Persistent offenders will have their vehicles towed, according to Najib al Zarooni, director of parking for the Department of Transport. "If they are getting five or more fines, they will get towed," he said, adding that this provision had been approved but not yet made law. It would cost a driver about Dh500, plus any unpaid fines, to get a vehicle back. Although fines come into effect on Saturday for some offences, the 27 parking enforcement officers would focus at first on making sure vehicles are parked in designated areas - the early stages of the programme were intended to educate drivers, he said.

For instance, a motorist who parked in an appropriate space but allowed the meter to expire would probably receive only a warning for now. "We want people to get used to paying and to get used to parking in the proper bay," Mr al Zarooni said. "If he pays for the first hour and fails to pay for the second and third hour, we will still give him a warning, but no fine. "However, illegal parking - nobody will accept it."

There are 25 different parking violations listed, with fines starting at Dh100 for overstaying the maximum time permitted by a meter. At the other end of the scale, a Dh1,000 fine can be levied for nine different violations, including parking in a space with a fire hydrant or parking in an ambulance bay. Double-parking will cost Dh300. If the culprit pays the fine within 15 days, he or she will be given a 25 per cent discount, but vehicle registrations will not be possible while fines are unpaid.

"We will not penalise you for not paying now - but if you are not paying, and you are having five or more fines in a year, like illegal parking, you will get your vehicle towed." A senior parking official said offenders would not start seeing their vehicles towed away until at least next year. The programme will be extended to nine stages and 75,000 parking spaces in the city over the next 30 months, although Mr al Zarooni had not yet decided which area would next.

The parking inspectors, from the private company Saaed, which currently handles minor traffic crashes, have been trained to patrol the first sectors. Eventually, there will be 700 officers dedicated to enforcing parking compliance. mchung@thenational.ae