Motorists await swift parking meter overhaul

Machines to be upgraded following complaints that new Dh1 coin is being rejected

By Rayeesa Absal, 
Sara Sabry 
and Nada Al Taher, Staff Reporters
21:59 January 9, 2013

Dubai/Abu Dhabi: All paid parking meters in Dubai will accept the new one dirham coins by February, a senior transport official told Gulf News, amid numerous complaints from motorists about the coins being rejected.

“Paid parking meters are now being upgraded to accept the new coins issued by the Central Bank,” Maitha Obaid Bin Udai, CEO of the Roads and Transport Authority’s (RTA) Traffic and Roads Agency, said.

The issue arose as the specifications of the new coin is different from the older ones still in circulation, she said. The new coins weigh 6.4g and have a diameter of 24mm. They have an alloy composition with 75 per cent copper and 25 per cent nickel.

The upgrading of parking meters got under way in December, Maitha said.

The most crowded areas are being prioritised first, including Satwa, Naif, Al Ras, the fish market and the Gold Souq area, Umm Hurair (the consulate area) and Karama.

In the meantime, motorists may use the four other modes of payment available, which do not depend on coins, she said. These include prepaid parking cards, NoL cards, paying via SMS, and annual parking permit.

Motorists complain that it is quite frustrating that machines do not accept the new coins and they end up getting fines.

“It is very annoying to walk up to the parking meter with the only coins you have and find out that it will not be accepted. I had to wait for a passer-by to give me another coin,” said Momen Rashid, a Dubai resident.

The situation is the same in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, with motorists struggling not only to find a parking spot but also to find the right coins.

“I had to rush for my daily meeting. I parked my car and hurriedly searched for the nearest parking ticket machine. The machine didn’t accept the coins, I was running late already, so I left and I got to pay charges at the end of the day,” said Hiba Sharif, an Abu Dhabi resident, who lives in Khalidiya. She added that she has filed a complaint with Mawaqif.

When contacted, a Mawaqif customer service representative told Gulf News that the parking meters in the capital are also being reprogrammed to accommodate the new coins. However, no date was given.

“We are expecting the process to be completed soon, but we are not sure of the exact date,” a Department of Transport official said.

Another resident, Mohammad Nabeel, said: “Parking in Abu Dhabi has become a nightmare. It is extremely stressful to spend hours searching for a parking spot besides the unpleasant experience of not accepting the new coins.”