x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mawaqif paid parking timings to be extended after Eid holidays

Mawaqif paid parking timings will be extended until midnight after the Eid Al Fitr holidays.

Mawaqif currently have 87,957 activated spaces and 55,866 residence permits issued.
Mawaqif currently have 87,957 activated spaces and 55,866 residence permits issued.

ABU DHABI // Drivers will have to pay to park their cars for an extra two hours, from 10pm until midnight, after the Eid Al Fitr holiday at the end of Ramadan.

During the holy month itself,  the paid-parking hours will be 9am to 4pm and 10.30pm to 2.30am every day except Fridays.
Parking will be free from the 29th day of Ramadan until the third day of Eid.

Paid-parking hours at the moment are 8am until 10pm except on Fridays and holidays.

The change after Ramadan is being introduced at the request of residents who want to entertain guests in their homes, and others who visit supermarkets late in the evening, the Mawaqif parking agency general manager, Mohammed Al Otaiba, said yesterday.

“In-depth studies showed us beyond doubt that timings should be extended rather than shortened,” he added.

The extended parking hours will be a more efficient use of the available space and will benefit more drivers, said Mr Al Otaiba.

The goal is to allow more drivers to park legally.

Mawaqif regulates 87,957 parking spaces and has issued 55,866 residential parking permits. “As per the data we have for permits, we don’t have a shortage of residential parking,” Mr Al Otaiba said.

Of the free parking during the Eid holiday, Mr Al Otaiba said: “I would like to encourage all customers to use it effectively and not jeopardise safety by parking behind other vehicles or closing and blocking the streets.”

The agency hopes to have most parking problems solved within five years with more spaces and better public-transport networks. Mr Al Otaiba asked residents to “be patient with us until we finish this period of time and then we will see the change”.

Mawaqif is working “very aggressively” to create 14,000 new parking spaces by 2017 on Abu Dhabi island from reclaimed areas, road changes and the removal of abandoned vehicles.

Four temporary multi-storey car parks that can hold up to 250 vehicles, and one permanent multi-storey car park with 1,200 spaces, are planned by the end of 2016.

New developments are not given construction permits unless they include adequate parking provision.

In response to drivers’ concerns about Mawaqif fines and the conduct of inspectors, Mr Al Otaiba said staff were not paid commission for issuing tickets and Mawaqif was a non-profit organisation.

“If you are blocking the public or you are jeopardising public safety or traffic safety they have a clear direction to issue fines,” Mr Al Otaiba said. “But in the end we’re human, if you have an emergency or anything just communicate with the inspector.”

Inspectors have been known to pay from their own pocket to help people who have no coins for the ticket machines.

Paying and resolving issues with fines will be easier with a new link between the Department of Transport and the police, introduced this year.

“Anything happened before 2012, if it’s a mistake, we’re sorry,” said Mr Al Otaiba. “We apologise for the time and the effort that you spent, the emotional disturbance. In each new system there are a lot of errors but we promise our customers that starting in 2012 we already have a link with the police.

“We’re human beings in the end and we open the door for anybody to complain.”

The Mawaqif parking scheme is also intended to encourage people to use public transport and discourage illegal housing arrangements in overcrowded villa and apartments.

“Parking division is a tool to reach the public transport vision of 2030,” Mr Al Otaiba said. “I don’t think the problem will exist in 2016 because public transport will be enhanced.”

More bus shelters, more air conditioning and more dedicated bus lanes will encourage public transport use and reduce the demand for parking.

“If all of this comes in 2016, DoT might say OK, maybe we don’t need 10,000 parking spaces, we can change it to other services, such as parks or playgrounds for kids because we need those for the island.

“The Department of Transport and Mawaqif hope that we reach zero tickets in 2030. Basically, if you don’t want to pay for a ticket, don’t commit the offence. As simple as that.”

Mawaqif also announced that residents will be given a one-month grace period to renew expired parking permits before being fined.

azacharias@thenational.ae