x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Parking fee date now Oct 1, officials say

Abu Dhabi residents bracing themselves for parking fees in parts of the city as early as next month have a reprieve.

A parked car blocks in another vehicle on Hamdan Street yesterday.
A parked car blocks in another vehicle on Hamdan Street yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi residents bracing themselves for parking fees in parts of the city as early as next month have had a reprieve. The Department of Transport issued a press release on Sunday that new regulations, fees and fines were to be introduced from July.

But the official in charge of the parking management programme said yesterday the new regulations, fees and fines would not start until October 1. Najib al Zarooni, the director of parking at the Department of Transport, said he believed that a mistake had been made by the department's public relations team regarding the July date. It would be "impossible" to start enforcing paid parking that soon, he said.

Mr al Zarooni declined to offer specifics beyond Sunday's press release, saying the details of initiatives and timelines would be outlined at a press conference expected next month. "We will not be having enforcement in July," he said. "Actual implementation, we will mention it in the press conference." The press release said the parking management programme would introduce new legislation and guidelines to regulate the use of both public and private parking spaces with the aim of encouraging drivers to stay only for a short time in busy city centre parking spots.

Residential parking permits will be issued and parking facilities built either above or underground. Existing underground parking will be improved. The department took over responsibility for the programme last year from Abu Dhabi Municipality, which had installed solar-powered parking meters between Hamdan Street and Capital Park in anticipation of starting the programme. Mr al Zarooni said the department was studying the municipality's plan to see what changes were needed.

"The study was made two years back," he said. "It is an old study, so we need to study everything again. "There are so many projects coming out so we have to take that into consideration also." The British company NCP Services, now called NSL Services Group, was hired last year to set up and manage the parking programme for the city centre and part of Airport Road. At a presentation last November, the company said the programme would be introduced in 10 stages over two-and-a-half years, and would include a total of 2,500 meters. People will be able to pay to park at the meters via mobile phone, credit card or with a prepaid smart card. The cost has not been disclosed.

Paid parking will eventually apply from the Corniche to Hazza bin Zayed Street between Khaleej al Arabi Road and the road that runs in front of Abu Dhabi Mall, as well as the strip from Hazza bin Zayed to Al Saada Street between Al Karamah Street and Fourth Street, according to the company's plan. In the long term, the DoT is looking for city centre sites for public car parks, either above or below ground. Temporary car parks may be erected initially.

Davyd Farrell, who is organising a symposium on parking issues to be held in Abu Dhabi this November, said the management programme was necessary to help reduce congestion in the city centre. "Of course there will be some resistance from the general public to start with because they are not used to paying for a parking space," Mr Farrell said. "But ultimately I am sure the majority of people will realise that this is a good thing and it is going to make downtown Abu Dhabi a much more pleasant place.

"It is going to make finding parking a lot easier." A lack of places to park only "adds to the traffic on the roads", Mr Farrell said. "If you've got 15, 20 cars already going around, they are just adding to an already busy area.By implementing this city-wide project, the actual standard of living of people's daily routines will improve." mchung@thenational.ae