Dubai: Motorists are furious about inflated parking charges by private parking lots and a lack of parking spaces in the city.
They specifically complained against the exorbitant fees being charged by owners of the private parking lots mushrooming in commercial and residential areas, especially in Deira and Bur Dubai — the most congested parts of the expanding city.
The Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has also increased its parking charges to Dh2 per hour in areas where it was earlier charging Dh1 per hour with immediate effect. The changes were made to standardise the parking charges in the RTA's paid parking zones across the city.
Gulf News' investigation revealed that private parking lots, which are mainly created in empty plots in busy commercial or residential areas, charge from Dh10 to Dh20 per hour in Bur Dubai and Deira.
Since there is an acute shortage of parking in these areas, motorists going to them either for work or shopping are forced to park in these private parking lots and end up paying heavy fees.
According to the RTA's statistics, the number of vehicles is much higher than the number of marked parking spaces on Dubai roads.
There are more than a million registered vehicles in Dubai, but the number of parking spaces in the paid parking zones is about 80,000 and around 100,000 marked spaces outside the paid parking zones in the city.
Hundreds of thousands of motorists are forced to either park in empty plots or park illegally on the pavements, especially at night.
The parking problem is further aggravated since most of the empty plots which were earlier used for free parking in congested areas of the city have been turned into private paid parking lots by their owners to mint money.
"I don't mind paying the increased parking fee of Dh2 instead of Dh1 per hour, but the exorbitant charges by private parking lots are totally unjustifiable as they charge at least Dh10 per hour," said Tasleem Khan, a resident of Bur Dubai.
He said the shortage of parking spaces is yet another big issue in the Central Business District (CBD) in Deira and Bur Dubai.
When contacted, Engineer Adel Al Marzouqi, Director of the Parking Department at the RTA, said that the RTA does not own private parking lots. "The owners of the empty plots get permission from the RTA to turn them into parking lots after paying a fee and meeting specific requirements," he said, adding that the RTA does not control parking fees.
The increased parking fee from Dh1 to Dh2 for the first hour will not have any impact on motorists who are using seasonal parking cards, said a senior official.
Engineer Adel Al Marzouki, Director of the Parking Department at the RTA said that the parking fee has been changed only for the first hour whereas the fee remains the same for the second, third and the fourth hour. Parking for two hours cost Dh5 where fee for three hours is Dh8 and Dh 11 for four hours in all the paid parking zones controlled by the RTA.
50 multi-storey parking plazas
Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) has plans to build at least 50 multi-storey parking plazas in Dubai to cope with the increasing parking problems, said a senior official.
"We have identified at least 50 plots of land to build parking plazas in different parts of Dubai to meet the increasing parking needs in the city," said Engineer Adel Al Marzouki, Director of the Parking Departments at the RTA.
Speaking to Gulf News, he said that at least nine out of total 50 parking plazas would be constructed very soon in Central Business Districts of Deira and Bur Dubai while the rest would be build gradually in future. "The RTA is planning to build these parking plazas in cooperation with the private sector in line with its policy of Public-Private Partnership (PPP)," he added.
Currently, there are only six multi-storey parking plazas controlled by the RTA. They are located at Riqqat Al Butine (behind Al Khaleej Hotel), Bani Yas area (near Deira Tower), Bani Yas Square, Bani Yas Street (near Dubai Municipality Museum), Naif Street (opposite Naif Police Station), and Al Ghubaiba (near Ministry of Finance building).
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