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Sharjah residents unhappy with free parking being scrapped

SHARJAH // Residents are unhappy with a decision to end free afternoon parking in the city.

Sharjah City Council members last week agreed to end free parking between 1pm and 5pm in an attempt to curb abuse from motorists taking advantage of it, especially near marketplaces.

For Naser Hamdan, the free parking gave him a chance to rest at home after work before he is forced to move his car to avoid paying for parking in the evening.

“Parking is expensive, whether it’s per hour or yearly parking permits. I can’t afford to pay those, so during the noon hours, I park in front of my building, and when paid parking is resumed, we move the car away to avoid paying,” said the 43-year-old, who owns a vehicle repair shop.

He and his 22-year-old son take turns moving their only car to an open sandy area in Al Yarmouk.

“We park our car about 700 to 800 metres away from our home to save on parking fees,” the Palestinian said.

Paid parking in Sharjah is applied six days a week. Previously it was enforced between 8am and 1pm and from 5pm to 10pm but the four-hour afternoon gap will soon also paid. On Fridays and public holidays parking is free.

“We roam around the area for a long time to get a parking space in the afternoon after work,” said Nazeer Ahmed, a 37-year-old Pakistani sales representative who lives in Al Ghuwair.

“Some motorists use the free parking time to hang around the area with their friends, especially near Rolla Square, while us residents either double park until someone leaves or keep roaming the street until we find a spot.

“If the new decision comes into effect, it will add more financial burden on us, to pay for an additional hour or two of paid parking almost daily.”

But a business owner said the decision may help him get more customers into his shop.

“Afternoon is when residents come back from work and do some shopping before getting home, so having available parking spots in the market area will help them do their shopping, and get us more business, instead of them driving away because motorists are hogging the free parking,” said Pakistani Mohammed Abdulrahman, 53.

The cancelling of free afternoon parking will come into effect after an official announcement is made to the public, Sharjah City Council said.

In May, Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority also abolished free afternoon parking in the emirate and doubled parking fees in some areas.

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(via The National)