Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai: The mParking system broke down once again yesterday morning for hours, forcing motorists to dash to the nearest parking meters to renew their parking fees using coins.

"This mParking system has become unpredictable as it keeps on failing time and again while motorists end up getting fines for violations which they [did not] commit," said Raja Mahmoud, a motorist who got an mParking rejection message on Shaikh Zayed Road.

He said the RTA should come up with some solution to fix this problem for good. Gulf News received numerous complaints yesterday regarding the failure of the mParking service.

The mParking service, introduced in November 2009, allows motorists to pay their parking fees in designated zones by using the short message service (SMS) through their mobile phones.

However, the service often fails, resulting in many motorists getting fined by inspectors as they fail to renew their parking tickets using the service.

Gulf News established that the mParking service remained suspended for hours yesterday morning and also on Sunday evening due to a technical problem at the service provider etisalat.

"There is no problem in the RTA system. We investigated the matter and were told by the etisalat [the service provider] that the system hung up due to [a] heavy inflow of SMSes sent by motorists for the mParking service," said Engineer Adel Al Marzouqi, director of the Parking Department at the Dubai Roads and Transport Authority (RTA).

He said RTA requested etisalat to increase the capacity of servers to accommodate an increasing number of mParking users.

During peaks hours, around 100 people send SMSes for mParking per minute and the number is increasing by the day. Around 20 per cent of parking reservations are being conducted through mParking.

Al Marzouqi said that two telecommunication companies, etisalat and du, handle the mParking services in Dubai.

Al Marzouqi urged car owners facing problems with reserving parking for their cars to file complaints by calling the RTA's customer service centre.

"We will look into the cases and the fines will be waived if issued wrongly during the service failure time," he said.

Etisalat was unavailable for comment.

10-minute grace period

The Department of Transport (DoT) in Abu Dhabi is offering all users of ‘Mawaqif' a 10-minute grace period to pay for parking space across all parking areas across the emirate, the department said in a statement yesterday.

Violations will only be incurred if vehicles do not have parking tickets after the grace period lapses or if a vehicle has been parked incorrectly or has been parked in an inappropriate space.