‘Furniture-movers’ wait for customers at Madinat Zayed Parking area. The truckers complain they have been alloted only 10 parking spots in the area, which remains full all the time. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Despite being heavily fined for taking up non-allocated spaces in public parking lots in Abu Dhabi, “furniture movers” continue the practice, saying they have no other option.

Furniture movers, also informally known as “house-shifters”, said there are very few parking spaces allocated to them in the downtown area, which is the prime business location for them.

These expatriates own pick-up trucks or vans used to transport furniture and other belongings of residents shifting homes.

The movers said they are fined Dh500 to Dh1,000 for the violations, with fines slapped separately by Abu Dhabi Municipality, Mawaqif, and Abu Dhabi Police.

Mawaqif is the government body issuing parking permits in Abu Dhabi.

Overcrowding issue

The situation has led to crowding of movers in parking lots, as Gulf News found during a recent visit to Madinat Zayed, a popular shopping area in Abu Dhabi city.

The movers who earn about Dh3,000 to Dh4,000 a month, sometimes accumulate fines worth Dh1,000 to Dh2,000 a month.

Ebrahim Khan, a 24-year-old furniture mover, said: “We hold a goods’ transporting permit to move commodities, but parking is a big issue for us in the city. Mawaqif and the municipality do not allow us to park in the public parking spaces. They only gave us 10 spots to park, which remains full all the time. This area [Madinat Zayed] gives us good business — a good turnout of customers — so we risk parking here throughout the day.”

Despite paying such heavy fines, movers said they are continuing in the business since it is not easy for them to find alternative work as they have been in the same business for years.

They operate legally under the transport rules, but say they are fined for violating parking and road regulations and for “disfiguring the city image” by clustering inside the city.

Their transport vehicles are not permitted to remain in the city — they have to park in Musaffah for long-term parking.

However, Rauf Haider, a resident of Madinat Zayed in Abu Dhabi, said, they struggle to get parking as slots are taken up by these movers, “Paking is a big problem in the city and they [movers] should move out. These truckers are always around the post office area and other streets of the neighbourhood and they fearlessly park here making it difficult for residents to find parking space.”

Madinat Zayed is one of the most crowded localities in the capital and finding parking here is a Herculean task particularly in the evening hours when shoppers throng to the area, according to Haider. “I believe they [movers] should park outside the city and leave space for residents. Even though parking inspectors drive them out, they keep coming back,” said the Indian expat.

“Whenever we pass by them, they immediately approach our vehicles and wave their hands to ask us if we need transport service,” he said.

Cheaper choice

These furniture movers are patronised by residents seeking to move homes as they offer cheaper rates than professional movers and packers.

“For moving house furniture from Abu Dhabi to Musaffah, on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, we charge only Dh200 to Dh250 while similar shifting by larger movers and packers would cost more than Dh1,000,” said Khan, a furniture mover.

“It’s been about two months since Mawaqif gave us about 10 parking spaces in a row beside the mosque at the post office, but that’s insufficient for us. If we park outside these lots, Mawaqif inspectors fine us,” he said.

He added: “Mawaqif and police — both fine us Dh500 each for the same violation. But if municipality inspectors do a round of the area, they issue a fine of Dh1,000.”

On-road practice

There are many big trucks operating in downtown Abu Dhabi, but in Madinat Zayed there are only 80 to 100 trucks approximately.

The police issue fines to truck drivers when they violate traffic rules by blocking access to other parked vehicles in the city and start loading the trucks on the road itself.

Rasool Habib, 30, Pakistani expatriate, said: “In some localities of the city, it’s hard to find parking spaces, even after waiting for hours. So ultimately we risk loading on the road. If we are lucky, the police don’t catch us, and we don’t get fined.”

The movers are usually found in the parking lot beside the Central Post Office on Muroor Road from 8am to 8pm daily.