Stiff fines await those who get their cars cleaned by illegal car washers such as this man in Al Wahda, Sharjah. Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: XPRESS/ Ahmed Ramzan

SHARJAH: Sharjah residents had a rude awakening after inspectors slapped them with Dh250 fine for employing illegal car washers, XPRESS has learnt.

The fines were imposed days prior to Eid following warnings by Sharjah Municipality against the practice of paying cleaners or watchmen in residential buildings to tidy up private cars. Shahzad, a resident of a building on Al Wahda Road, was unpleasantly surprised when he saw a Dh250 ticket stuck on his car windscreen on August 18.

“The fine came as a big surprise,” said the Sharjah resident whose car was parked on the ground floor of his building near Rameez Trading Centre on Al Wahda Road. “Several cars parked next to mine had similar slips on their windscreens. They were also cleaned by our building watchman.”

Around 600 motorists have been fined over the same offence since January this year.

Sharjah Municipality Director General Sultan Abdullah Al Mualla said the practise of employing illegal car washers, distorts the city’s image.

“Car owners who allow their vehicles to be washed on the streets or residential areas will be fined Dh250, and illegal car washers will be fined Dh500,” he said. Another municipality official said the car washers are illegal residents and pose a serious threat to society.

Some residents are unhappy with the fine and some who wash or dust off their cars daily were alarmed they, too, may be fined.

“What about car owners like us who wash our own vehicles?” said Imran, a resident of a building on Al Khan Road. “Are we going to be fined for simply dusting off or wiping our car clean? The rules should be clear on this.”

A commercial car wash establishment typically charges Dh25 per job. “Commercial car washers should cut their charges to Dh10 from the existing Dh25 to Dh35 per wash,” said Ernest, another expatriate resident. “In these car wash stations, the queues are long and each car wash takes at least 20 minutes. This is a big damper, whereas our natoor (watchman) washes our vehicles as we sleep or rest at home.”

Aamir, a resident of Al Nahda, said: “This rule means a much bigger carwash budget.”

Some residents said they now ask car washers to put the car wipers back in place and remove any telltale signs that would give them away.

“So much water is spilled on the road by used-car showroom staff. They should be fined first,” said a resident of Abu Shagarah.

But not everyone disagrees with the new rule.

“Illegal car washers are troublesome people and rule over the area as if it’s their exclusive domain … they use swear words and stare at women when they pass by. This action will drive illegal car-washers out of business.”