x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Students at Dubai's Knowledge Village blast parking charges

Parking meters have been installed at Knowledge Village on the orders of Tecom, the free zone's governing body, and enforcement began last week.

Iftikhar Ahmed, a first-year student, with his car at a parking area in Knowledge Village. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
Iftikhar Ahmed, a first-year student, with his car at a parking area in Knowledge Village. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

DUBAI // Angry students say they cannot afford new parking charges but alteratives to driving are almost non-existent.

Parking meters have been installed at Knowledge Village on the orders of Tecom, the free zone's governing body, and enforcement began last week.

The Roads and Transport Authority also began enforcing paid parking in Internet City and Media City.

On-street paid parking came into effect in mid-January and charges for off-street parking in sand lots came into effect on April 13.

Isha Kembhavi, a second year business and marketing student at Middlesex University, said students should be allowed to apply for parking permits instead of forking out more than Dh2 an hour between 8am and 6pm from Saturday to Thursday.

The RTA says the permit price is set by Tecom. A three-month one costs Dh700, six months is Dh1,300 and a year is Dh2,500. There is a Dh100 processing fee for the issuance and approval of each card.

An agent at Tecom's customer service centre said they would not be issuing permits to students.

"Tecom will only issue parking permits to business partners based in our free zones," he said. "We have allocated a number of permits for each company and they are welcome to apply for them.

"Each university must apply for the number of permits it requires. If they chose to hand them out to students then that is up to them, but Tecom will not be issuing permits directly to students."

The agent said students should contact their university administration to apply on their behalf.

"If people are earning pay, or working at the free zone, then it's OK," said Ms Kembhavi. "But we are students, we have no income, our budget is very limited.

"It is unreasonable and unaffordable to students - the university or Tecom should really offer students free parking cards."

Ms Kembhavi, 19, said using the Metro was not a viable alternative.

"The station is too far away and its too hot to walk 15 minutes to campus," she said. "The cost of using the Metro will be just as much as the parking, if you include the cost of a taxi to get me to the station."

She said her university had done nothing to assist the students. "They said it is out of their hands."

Emaad Aftab, 20, a third year accounting student, said Wollongong University had tried to help. "The university is trying to arrange shuttle services from a nearby sandlot with free parking to block 14 where the university is located. It has also been trying to increase the frequency of shuttle services to and from the Metro station."

Iftikhar Ahmed, 19, a first year IT student at Wollongong, now takes the Metro and uses the university's shuttle service.

"I leave my house in Sharjah and drive to Rashidiya Station, park there and take the Metro for an hour and 30 minutes. Sometimes there is no shuttle bus, so I have to walk 15 minutes in the heat to get to class. By then my energy is already drained, and now I have to start my day?"

Kai Zhou, 19, a second year finance student at Wollongong, said the parking situation was chaotic.

"It is disorganised and crowded, and accidents are always happening. Parking was never an issue before, now it is all anyone cares about," said the student, from China. "They closed off the sandy parking areas near our school. One on the other side of Knowledge Village is the only sandy parking we have left and I hear they are closing this.

"I bought a parking permit two months ago for all of Dubai but I'm told it doesn't cover these areas. It cost me Dh2,500, now they want us to pay another Dh2,500 for just coming to school? I can't afford that. It's not reasonable."

malkhan@thenational.ae