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Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi will begin taking quicker action against vandals and other people found destroying public property following new amendments to its General Appearance Law.

The amendment to Law No 2 of 2012 concerning the Maintenance of General Appearance, Health and Public Harmony was announced on Tuesday, July 12 municipal regulator, the Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) , and it allows the DMT to slap fines on vandals. In the past, fines were decided upon by the Public Prosecution after being referred to the authority by the DMT.

Discounted settlements

The new amendment also enables the DMT to offer settlements and discounts of up to 25 per cent of the fine value to offenders, as long as the fine is paid within 60 days of the settlement offer. Violators can also file grievances regarding violations with the relevant municipal administrations, which is intended to safeguard rights.

“The amended General Appearance Law provide clear direction for DMT to implement the stipulations set for protecting the appearance of the emirate, and to monitor and control irregularities. It represents a crucial step that directly contributes to the lives of Abu Dhabi residents, and improves their ability to accomplish their aspirations in all aspects of life. It will build on Abu Dhabi's decades of success in developing cities and sustainable infrastructure. Thanks to the vision and continuous support of the leadership, we will be able to enhance the quality of life for all residents of the emirate of Abu Dhabi," said Falah Al Ahbabi, DMT chairman.

Maintaining public spaces

Law No 2 of 2012 prohibits any activity that could adversely impact the appearance, cultural, architectural, or aesthetic features of public areas in the emirate, such as green spaces, walkways, buildings, marketplaces, and public roads. It also aims to eliminate noise or disturbance, including any behaviours that interfere with others' freedoms and accesses.

It is typically invoked in cases where residents and visitors damage public property and assets, such as drawing unlicensed graffiti on public facades or abandoning vehicles in public parking lots.

Strengthening enforcement

Modifying the functional conditions for implementing Law No 2 of 2012, the amendment converts the statutory fines that could be imposed under it to administrative fines. Administrative fines are typically quicker to impose.

The DMT will also have flexibility to determine the amount of the fine based on the severity of the offence, and it can now charge the offender for the cost of maintenance and construction works.

The DMT said that the changed law will enhance wellbeing in residential neighbourhoods of the emirate, and strengthen enforcement mechanisms.