Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

Abu Dhabi motorists hit with vehicle seizures amid new clampdown on dirty cars

At least dozens of cars in the city have been towed

A Honda Pilot covered in dirt and slapped with tickets sits in a car park near World Trade Centre Mall in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National
A Honda Pilot covered in dirt and slapped with tickets sits in a car park near World Trade Centre Mall in Abu Dhabi. Delores Johnson / The National

Dozens of Abu Dhabi motorists have had dirty and dusty cars towed for breaching municipal rules aimed at protecting the city's image.

Abu Dhabi Municipality on Sunday again reminded drivers not to allow their cars to become covered in dust or dirt or face having them impounded.

Motorists must pay Dh1,500 to get the vehicle back - Dh3,000 if they wait more than 30 days.

The campaign is intended to identify abandoned cars as well as those that "distort the city's image", the authority said.

Inspectors stick a three-day warning on car windscreens before returning to tow them away if they have not been cleaned.

One driver, an imam at an Abu Dhabi mosque, said he had been caught out last month. He claimed he did not receive a notice - although the municipality insisted cars are not towed without warning.

“My car was parked outside the mosque where I live and work as an imam,” said Abu Abdullah, 42, a Saudi national who asked that his full name not be used.

“I pass by it every day as I walk in and out of the mosque but never saw a notice on it.

“Then suddenly, around a month ago, I walked out of the mosque and it wasn’t there.

“Then I saw the municipality inspector and he told me my car was too dusty and they had to tow it to protect the image of the city.”

In four months in 2017, a total of 500 fines worth some Dh3,000 were issued to motorists “for distorting the public image” of Abu Dhabi because of unclean vehicles.

He said his appeal was rejected.

“It didn’t look like it has been abandoned," he said.

“After around 15 days they told me my request has been rejected, so I had to pay the fine.”

Emirati Khalil Al Blooki said he was caught out by similar rules governing trailers parked on the street.

“It was parked right against the back wall of my villa,” said the 42-year-old Emirati.

“There’s nothing in that area, just a few trees, so it wasn’t on the street or blocking traffic. You could barely see it.

“I argued with the inspector that they [took] it without prior notice but he claimed he had.

“So I went to the municipality and asked them to retrieve evidence from the system that shows my car has been warned.

“I filed a complaint and I am waiting for their answer,” he said.

The authority says trailers must be licensed and have separate number plates or drivers face having them towed.

The municipality has ramped up efforts to remove dusty and abandoned cars in recent years.

Even in the industrial area of Mussaffah, abandoned cars have been removed from open areas and roundabouts where they had been dumped for years.

Updated: March 31, 2019 01:53 PM

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