Dubai: Parking woes are driving Sharjah residents up the wall.
On a good day, 42-year-old Fillipino, Rodel Navarro (name changed) usually has a half-mile trudge home, sometimes longer, across a bridge from the sandy area near the sidewalks across Al Nahda street after parking his old Nissan Sunny for the night.
However, his trouble do not end there. Chances are the next morning he may find one more dent or scratch on his car, if not another fine by Sharjah Police.
Like Navarro, thousands of harried motorists in the emirate have little or no choice but squeeze their cars in any spot they can find, risking a scratch of two and even fines.
“It’s been a constant struggle since I moved into a new building in Al Nahda some six months ago. I have struggled to find parking space every single day. I am forced to park in the large open sandy area, but my car’s underbelly is badly damaged as a result and there are several dents on the exterior owing to the way cars are parked next to each other,” said Raj, an Indian expat living near the densely populated Al Nahda round-about.
“But it’s not just a night-time problem,” said Ajaz Ahmad, a resident of the Abu Shagara area.
“The other day my guests missed iftar at my home by about 20 minutes while looking for a space to park their car. It’s become a constant embarrassment for me every time I call people home. There’s no free or paid parking anywhere, anytime,” he added.
Lack of parking lots in many buildings across Sharjah is only adding to the woes. And those who do offer such facilities quickly run out of space. “We have 800 units in our building, but parking spaces are allocated for only 540 cars and there’s usually quite a long waiting list for people willing to pay and park,” said a building manager wishing anonymity.
The same goes for people willing to ‘pay and park’ on the roads, with space shortage driving motorists around the bend. Back in 2008, officials reportedly announced they would build 40 paid multi-storey car parks. One of them collapsed halfway into construction and the construction of another was stalled midway. The status of the rest couldn’t be clarified immediately by Sharjah Municipality when XPRESS checked with them last month.
However a municipality spokesperson confirmed they were looking to transfer more free parking into paid parking. “We are currently putting a number of open spaces under study in order to transfer it into public parking lots. We are facilitating the procedures for investment of open spaces as private paid parking areas,” the spokesperson said.
The ground reality however continues to hit residents hard on a daily basis.
“There used to be an empty car park near our apartment, but that was taken over by the municipality several years ago for building a multi-storey car park. Unfortunately the work’s not progressed beyond a few levels and now the space is completely gone,” says a resident of Al Majaz. “Add to that, the nearby sandy area we used for parking now houses the waste and scrap disposed from the construction of that project and remains cordoned off. Only God help us to find a parking,” he added.