x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

New parking area to solve Dubai's big rig problem

City says new parking lot will accommodate as many as 1,000 lorries and will have cafes, tyre services and bathrooms.

With a lack of parking spaces, lorry drivers park along the hard shoulder of motorways, risking hefty fines.
With a lack of parking spaces, lorry drivers park along the hard shoulder of motorways, risking hefty fines.

DUBAI // With no official parking area for long-haul trucks and trailers, drivers and transport firms say they face more tough fines for parking illegally. Now, to prevent 16-wheelers from pulling up by the sides of the roads or stopping in unofficial parking lots, Dubai will provide a new, huge parking area.

Khalifa Hareb, the director of Dubai Municipality's assets management department, said plans were under way to develop a parking area that would accommodate about 1,000 vehicles. "There is a plan to set aside a big area of land," he said. "We are planning to put services such as security, cafes, tyre services and bathrooms." "We have received complaints. We see accidents and all spaces near the roads are full of trucks," he said.

Mr Hareb said his department was working to finalise the details of the parking area, with a decision due at the end of the month. Drivers likely will be charged a "small amount" to use the parking zone. The municipality estimates there are about 1,000 long-haul trucks stationed in and around Dubai. One driver, who would be identified only as Mohammed from Pakistan, has been operating a truck in the emirate for 11 years.

In 2003, he managed to save enough money to buy his own trailer which he drives up and down the Gulf and further north to the Levant to deliver cargo. But, when he is not on the road, Mohammed, 38, parks his trailer alongside dozens of other trucks in a sandy lot in Al Awir, risking hefty fines. Mohammed and other drivers rent shared accommodation elsewhere and every day they come to the lot, waiting by their trucks until they receive a call to collect cargo.

If they are caught, they can face fines in the hundreds of dirhams, said Mohammed, a father of three who makes about Dh2,000 a month. "It is a very difficult situation here," he said. "Before it was easy. Now they issue a lot of fines." For other drivers who do not have accommodation in Dubai, their trucks double as a home. Mustapha Nassar, 39, from Syria, drives a refrigerated trailer, transporting mostly fruits and vegetables. While he is waiting for a pick-up or delivery in Dubai, he is able to park for short periods in a small lot on the grounds of the Fruit and Vegetable Market in Al Awir.

"I live in my truck, it's my home," he said. "It's a hard life for us, especially in the summer. It's too hard and we get too many fines." Seated nearby on a colourful mat underneath the carriage of a truck sharing tea with two friends, Yahya, another Syrian driver, said he slept next to his vehicle or inside the cabin. "There is no place for us to stay," he said. "It's hot, but we manage." Sahadevan Sajeesh, the operations manager for Al Robban Shipping and Freight Services in Dubai, which has several trailers and trucks under its management, said his company had also been affected.

"Before we did not have this problem and the trucks could just park in the industrial areas," he said. "They have to find some solution and not immediately give fines." Mr Sajeesh said they had noticed more fines have been issued in the past couple of months, leading the company to consider purchasing land where it can station its trucks. The exact value of the fines that have been issued recently is unclear, although drivers report that they face hundreds of dirhams in penalties.

The Roads and Traffic Authority, which issues some of the fines, was unavailable for comment yesterday. zconstantine@thenational.ae