ABU DHABI // Families in some parts of the capital fear that they could be left with no place to leave their cars when metered parking begins today.
The Department of Transport announced on Thursday that paid parking would start in an area near Hamdan Street. Residents can apply for parking permits for their cars, but there is a maximum of two per household - leaving those with more cars in the lurch.
"This is such a short-term solution to create more parking," said Sama Bilbeisi, who lives and works in Abu Dhabi. "We are a family of five, we have five cars, so we will have a big problem. I am not really sure what we will do. It is going to be very hard because we all work in remote sites.
"I really don't see how this is a good idea, or how this will create more parking," Ms Bilbeisi said. "The cars are going to have to find places to park, so all that's happening is that they are just moving the [parking] problem to another neighbourhood."
"We can't rely on the cabs or [carpooling]. There is already a shortage of cabs here and they hardly stop for you." The new parking plan has caught some residents off guard. "Is this actually for real?" said Arene Levon, who is one of four car owners in her household. "My parents, my sister and I all work and there is no way we can do without a car." Ms Levon, an executive assistant at a private university in Abu Dhabi, said the cars for her family were a necessity.
"There is no way we can do our jobs without owning a car, I really don't know what to say," Ms Levon said.
Mawaqif, the manager of the scheme, describes its plans as a "world-class car-parking management system in the capital". It announced new pay parking for some zones on the island in October. Today it will unveil 3,725 parking spaces, scattered across the island from Khaleej al Arabi down to Baniyas Street.
Parking fees will start from Dh2 an hour. Annual permits will cost Dh800 (US$218) for the first vehicle and Dh1,200 for the second vehicle - with a limit of two cars per household. Sector E3 - the one in which paid parking will begin today - encompasses the area inside Baniyas (Najda) Street, Hamdan Street, Rashid bin Saeed Street and Sheikh Zayed the Second Street. "Residential permits allow drivers to park in any available standard parking bay in the area where they reside," Mawaqif said.
"By clearly displaying the permit on the vehicle dashboard, they will be exempt from paying hourly or daily tariffs at the parking meters." The permits cover owners, tenants and immediate family members, and are not interchangeable between cars or sectors.