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ABU DHABI // Traffic police have fined drivers of more than 3,000 heavy vehicles, lorries and buses illegally parked in residential areas over the past five months, as part of a campaign to ease the parking crisis. Lt Col Hamad al Shamsi, head of the capital's traffic department, said heavy vehicles that take up space in residential areas make it much more difficult for ordinary drivers to find places to park. Drivers caught illegally parked in residential areas receive two points on their driving licences and are fined Dh200 (US$55). The problem, Lt Col Shamsi added, boiled down to too many cars on the road. On average, more than 600 vehicles were registered in the emirate every day last year, the Department of Planning and Economy reported in June. In August, police launched a month-long campaign against illegal parking. They started to hand out more fines and reminded motorists that illegally parked vehicles could impede ambulances and other emergency services and potentially cost lives. Police later said they would continue to fine offenders, especially those who blocked other cars, parked in front of fire hydrants, or took up spaces reserved for handicapped drivers. Between March and mid-August, police issued more than 1,600 tickets to drivers for blocking other cars, more than 14,500 for impeding the flow of traffic, and more than 17,500 for parking in unauthorised locations, including fire zones and handicapped spots. Another 200 or so more citations were issued to drivers who parked in a traffic lane without a valid reason. Police and municipal officials recently announced a plan to build several multi-storey car parks, including mechanical car parks, to provide more parking spaces. The municipality also plans to spend nearly Dh1 billion on a parking management programme. It has signed a contract with a UK-based company, NCP Services, to manage the scheme, although no date has been set for its launch. email@example.com