More than a hundred cars have been impounded and dozens of motorists fined up to Dh3,000 as Abu Dhabi Municipality cracks down on “unsightly” dirty cars left behind by owners on holiday.
An inspection was carried out in Mussaffah and Mafraq industrial areas where 141 vehicles were impounded, 31 fines were issued and 289 car owners were given warnings for abandoning their vehicles over extended periods of time.
Similarly, motorists across the city have been handed hefty fines for not having their car washed after returning from holiday.
The cause for the clampdown is both aesthetic and for safety. An official from the municipality said dirty cars are an eye sore to the public and can pose risks to others if wind picks up the dust and blows it on other cars or on people.
He said even if the cars are being left temporarily unattended while the owners were on holiday, there were laws against having dirty cars.
“We have a law that says it should not be left dusty. How will the inspector know if this person is away on holiday?”
People should arrange for somebody to clean their cars while they are away, he said.
“Even from a security perspective, unattended cars impose a risk,” he said.
The Municipality urged people to keep their vehicles clean to avoid the fine of Dh3,000, which falls under Law No (2) for 2012.
If a person who has been fined reports to the Municipality a settlement will be offered which includes a 50 per cent discount.
However, the offender will still need to pay impound fees that vary based on the type of vehicle and where it was impounded from.
Repeat offenders will have their fine doubled.
According to a Municipality statement, motorists are given three days notice before impounding their car. The previous notice period was 14 days.
“If the vehicle is not removed after three days the Municipality will tow it to the impounding yard to protect the general appearance of the city as they become a source of public nuisance due to the accumulation of dust and waste.”
The law applies to all vehicles including trailers and even boats.
Khalid Mohammed, an Emirati graphic designer, said he was given no such notice before he was fined and had his car was impounded.
The 33-year-old said he left his car where he always does before travelling: in the designated parking space outside Guardian Towers in Muroor where he lives and travelled for two weeks.
His car was still in its spot when he returned from holiday but a few days later it was gone.
“No one called me, or texted me so I thought it was stolen,” he said.
Mr Mohammed called the police, who told him to check with Mawaqif and Abu Dhabi Municipality before reporting a theft.
He said neither police nor Mawaqif had his car and the Municipality had no record of impounding it as the process is outsourced. All he could do was visit the impound yards himself.
He found his car at the last yard he visited in Mafraq.
Before the impound yard would release his car, Mr Mohammed had to return to the Municipality to pay his fine.
“So I went to the one in Al Bateen and had to wait for an hour and a half for my turn.”
He was given a 50 per cent discount but had to pay impounding fees.
“Then I had to go back to Al Mafraq, and someone had to drive me through the yard to find my car. It was like a junk yard,” he said.
Another motorist, Mohammed Al Daqqaq, said he was erroneously issued a fine instead of a warning for his dirty car.
“When I came back from holiday in Jordan, my car was very dirty of course and I drove it to the car wash but it was too crowded,” the 32-year-old marketing manager said.
A few days later, he said he parked the car near Formal Park along the Abu Dhabi Corniche.
“I parked it there on Saturday and bought a Mawaqif ticket and put it on the windshield, so obviously I was using the car and it was not left unattended.”
On Sunday he found a Dh3,000 fine for disturbing the public image.
After visiting two Municipality branches he was told the inspector meant to issue him a warning but wrote it on a fine slip instead.
“I had to speak to the section head where my unintentional fine was registered to remove it from the system, but he wasn’t there so I have to go back tomorrow,” he said.