No work has been carried out at this multi story car park in Al Majaz for an year now. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/XPRESS

Sharjah: Motorists in Sharjah undergo a regular ordeal finding parking in busy areas, even as many grand projects announced to ease the problem are yet to see the light of day.

In 2008, officials had announced that 40 multi-storey car parks would be built in crowded neighbourhoods.

But not one of them is ready even three years down the line.

And at least three car parks are being built on plots previously used as free parking spaces by motorists. They remain unfinished, even though municipality officials had said in 2010 that those buildings were almost ready.

No work

Residents said almost no work has been carried out on the car parks in Al Majaz, Abu Shagara, and Al Qasimiya for a year. The buildings looked deserted when XPRESS visited the sites this week, with no sign of construction activity. It is not clear what is holding back the projects; Sharjah Municipality could not be reached for comment.

The car parks are apparently being built by the same contractor, according to project information boards on construction sites.

The under-construction Abu Shagara parking project had collapsed in 2009, injuring several workers. A subsequent investigation traced the collapsed to an architectural error. The mess has long been cleared up, but there is also no indication of any buildings works there. Motorists, meanwhile, continue to fight for vanishing free parking spaces. "It can take an hour to find parking in some cases," a Pakistani truck driver in Al Majaz said.

Desperate drivers are also parking illegally on pavements and resorting to double-parking, leaving their mobile numbers behind as a courtesy to motorists blocked out.

No guests, please

A motorist in Abu Shagara said he often stays at home on weekends because he is afraid of losing his parking spot. He said he was embarrassed to invite guests to his place because they would have to inevitably spend "30 minutes" in finding parking.

"I feel like I've won the lottery if I find parking nearby. Many people can't take it and park very far from home," the tenant from Abu Shagara added.

The multi-storey paid car parks were designed to hold between 800 and 1,600 vehicles. It is unclear how much parking would cost there.

Motorists pay between one and two dirhams per hour for public street parking and about Dh10 per hour in private parking lots, which have sprung up close to the planned municipality car parks.