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Parking nightmares in Dubai Media City
Are there any solutions in place to ease congestion?
May 13, 2014 2:58 by Nasreen Rasool
For many business owners and regular employees in Dubai Media City (DMC), parking is a daily battle. Cars can be seen circling parking lots, waiting for up to one hour for a spot to open up. Sometimes the frustration builds up so much that it erupts in verbal spats and angry gestures between motorists competing for the same spot.
With many new buildings coming up in the area, one can only wonder if this is going to add to the problem of parking congestion.
When asked what solutions were in place to curb the problem, the Dubai Land Department, which is the umbrella body for the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), revealed that no new projects have been registered, as every unit has parking. “In cases of larger apartments, you have to have multiple parking,” says an official spokesperson, who did not want to be named.
“It’s really terrible,” adds an irate employee who is working in DMC. “The municipality should give more parking spaces to each company, because there are a lot of spots, but they are all empty. We have tried to apply for permits, we told them we can pay for everything, but we have had no results. When we get to work, we try to find [an empty] parking spot everywhere. It takes 30 minutes to one hour sometimes.”
One business owner says, while his staff had the required permits, they received many complaints from visitors who can only park their cars for a few minutes. Sometimes visitors have no choice, but to park in zones reserved for permit holders and face the risk of being fined.
Another employee says: “There are not enough parking places, even in the metered sections. If we do park in one of the free zones, like on the sand or dirt, we still get fined.” He pays AED600 per month on parking fines. “We don’t know how to apply for permits, they seem to be allocated to only big companies, but spaces are all empty. Many people arrive at work late, hot and sweaty, because they have to park very far and walk in the sun. If you take a taxi to get to work every day, it can become very expensive.”
A person working from 9am to 6pm pays up to AED 25 per day for parking, which amounts to AED 500 per month based on a 5-day week. For those who have to leave the office in the middle of the day to attend meetings, it is almost impossible to find an available parking space when they return.
Tecom Investments, a member of Dubai Holdings, is the interface company through which businesses can apply for parking permits. However, these are all issued by the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). According to the management at Tecom Investments, the number of cards allocated to a business is based on the amount of floor space they have leased. In DMC, the average parking allocation is approximately 450 square feet per card.
“Companies do not have to take all or any of their allocation of cards, but they can apply for them at any time. The cards are not allocated to individuals, but to eligible companies – and, as such, it is for these companies to distribute their quota of cards among their employees as they see fit,” adds the spokesperson.
Parking cards are issued by the RTA from their offices in Al Manara or JBR, and are priced based on the length of validity:
- 3 months for AED700
- 6 months for AED1,300
- 1 year for AED2,500
Why so many empty spaces? A car waits for a spot to open up, as he is prohibited from parking in one of empty parkings in S4.
While the general public sentiment is that the system is unfair, Tecom Investments maintains that it is generous and flexible. Commenting on the lack of available metered parking, the spokesperson says: “As a large, modern city, Dubai faces many of the urban challenges that other popular cities do. Parking is one of those challenges. As a result, the demand for parking in the DMC area has grown significantly, along with the amount of traffic.”
“The parking system that is now in place in DMC gives priority to business partners in TECOM-owned buildings that receive parking cards based on leased floor space. For those who choose not to use their cars, the area is well supported by public transport.”
“Working with the RTA, we monitor the parking situation in DMC on an enduring basis, where viable solutions can be made to improve and enhance the parking offer, we will certainly consider implementing them. However, it is important to remember that there is only a finite amount of space within DMC.”
When asked what plans were in place to alleviate the problem, he adds: “We believe the current system, which is fair and generous in the context of Dubai as a whole, will, over time, reduce congestion and traffic in the DMC area. We have not remained inactive in terms of making enhancements. We monitor the locations closely along with the RTA, and we give feedback regularly to refine it. For example, within the past year, we have added 100 new parking spaces in DMC.”
Engg. Maitha bin Adai, CEO of the RTA’s Traffic and Roads Agency, could not explain why so many spaces remain empty in S4. When asked why parking is not made free for all employees, she says: “The reason behind this initiative is to provide a more efficient solution to the ever-increasing demand for parking in TECOM areas.” Yet, those who are slapped with fines every day may argue about the efficiency of this system.
Commenting on the possibility of increasing the number of parking spaces for non-permit holders, she adds: “The RTA and TECOM are currently restudying the parking infrastructure in place in TECOM to add more spaces for both reserved and paid parking.” However, no time frame for these new plans has been disclosed.