International City residents fed up of parking problems

When an oil tanker takes up residents’ places, it’s no surprise that people struggle to park near their homes.

Arif Sibte, a resident, inspects an abandoned car in the English Cluster of International City in Dubai. Antonie Robertson / The National
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DUBAI // Fed up with struggling to find parking near their homes each day, people living in International City have appealed to authorities not to renew the licences of transport and car hire companies in the area.

Residents have complained of parking places being taken by lorries, school buses and even oil tankers overnight.

“It is a massive problem. Sometimes it takes more than an hour to find parking,” said Arif Sibte, who has lived in the apartment community for the past seven years.

“There are oil tankers parked and this is very dangerous. Surely tankers should not be parked anywhere near residences and where children play.”

The affordable housing development has about 60,000 people living in 22,000 flats. They share parking spaces with 5,000 businesses on the ground floor of the 380 buildings.

Nakheel, the developer, said that it was working to tackle the congestion.

“The parking of trucks in International City is prohibited, with warning signs in place. In addition, Dubai Police issue fines for any vehicle illegally parked in the community,” said a Nakheel spokeswoman.

“We continue to liaise with the police and explore new ways of overcoming these challenges. Illegal parking is a challenge facing all communities in Dubai and we continue to take action to rectify the situation at International City.”

Signs from Nakheel went up in March cautioning that vehicles parked illegally and breaching community rules would be towed away if not removed in two weeks, while police signboards were put up in May that warned: “Heavy vehicle parking not allowed.” Both warnings have gone unheeded. More than a dozen lorries and buses are regularly left in front of buildings.

Left with no other option, residents said they are forced to park illegally on the kerb or pavement, at the risk of being fined Dh200. “I have been fined five times in the past two months,” Mr Sibte said. “I was tired of searching so I parked where I thought it would not obstruct traffic. But why are heavy trucks still allowed?”

Transport and rental companies said they were not breaking the law. “My drivers are gone during the day, they only use the parking at night near the office,” said Sultan Noor, manager of Rent-a-Car. “Where else will we park?”

Residents backed a recent Roads and Transport Authority plan to issue R, or reserve, permits in free parking zones to prevent commercial vehicles using residential parking overnight. Owners of vehicles parked overnight without the R card would be fined Dh200. The first area to be studied as part of the plan will be Mankhoul in Bur Dubai, followed by Al Badaa and Hor Al Anz. While there are no plans yet to include International City, RTA officials said they were talking with developers Nakheel and Emaar to regulate parking in residential areas with similar constraints.

“I will get peace of mind if this happens,” said Syed Yaseen, a resident since 2008. “This is the solution. Like the card we swipe to enter our building, if we can keep a card in our vehicle then the police know we are residents and won’t fine us. I search for parking for one to two hours. My concern is for myself, I will worry about my visitors being fined later.”