x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

200 abandoned cars seized in Ajman

The first week of a yearlong campaign saw vehicles towed to improve the environment and free up space.

More than 200 vehicles abandoned by their owners have been towed away during the first week of a campaign in Ajman, officials said yesterday. Ajman Municipality is spearheading the programme to improve surroundings, avoid environmental problems and free up parking spaces. Most of the cars had been towed away from residential areas, said Khalid Hosni, the head of the public health and environment department.

"Abandoned cars are not maintained and have a problem of polluting the environment," he said. They gave a bad impression to visitors, Mr Hosni added. All the cars had been taken to a municipality garage behind the police station in the Industrial Area. "Those who have claims for some of these cars, like owners who have just been away for long and did not intend to abandon their car, can approach the authorities at the garage," Mr Hosni said.

"But we mostly urge residents to look after their cars and maintain a good image of our city." The 12-month campaign is being supported by Ajman Investment and Marketing Services (Aims) following an agreement to preserve and improve the environment. A spokesman for Aims said: "Our men will be working with municipality officials to identify abandoned cars and remove them from residential and commercial areas."

However, the campaign has been met with a mixed response from residents. Some people backed it and welcomed the release of much-needed parking spaces. Hameed Mohammed, a 30-year-old Egyptian, said: "I live in Nuamiya. You can hardly get parking after 9pm and half of these cars have been there for more than a month." But for Zaid Taqqiullah, 40, from Pakistan, who is due to leave for his annual 30-day holiday next month, the campaign poses a problem. "Can the authorities tell us where it's safe to leave our cars or how we can wash them while we are away?" he said. @Email:ykakande@thenational.ae

Motorists in Abu Dhabi are being warned not to occupy parking spaces for prolonged periods while on holiday. Municipality inspectors monitor dust-coated cars for two weeks, then post a sticker on them requesting their removal within 24 hours. The vehicles are taken to yards in Al Mafraq or Al Wathba, where they can be retrieved after the payment of towing fees and fines of around Dh2,000. In the past seven months, 2,268 vehicles have been towed, almost double the figure for all of 2008.

In Dubai, notices are placed on luxury automobiles that are abandoned in car parks and by roadsides. Owners are given 15 days to remove their vehicle before it is towed. Dubai Municipality removed 40 cars in its most recent sweep of abandoned vehicles. Yaqoob Mohammed al Ali, the co-ordinator of the sweep in October, said that all the vehicles had been taken to the municipality scrapyard, where they were destroyed.

In Sharjah, abandoned cars can be seen in areas such as Nabaa, Rolla and Qassimiya. However, the municipality has yet to announce any programme to deal with the problem, which is not considered as big an issue as in neighbouring emirates. One resident of Nabaa, behind Sharjah Rotana Hotel, said there were four cars in a parking space that have been there for at least a year. "I have seen a purple Mitsubishi Lancer and the white Toyota Corolla since I came to this place and I have now been here about a year," he said. @Email:pmenon@thenational.ae