Muscat: Authorities in-charge of parking spaces in Muscat should create more before they fine drivers who park illegally, motorists say.
New fines and fees imposed by Muscat Municipality have caused confusion among drivers in Oman with many now wondering where they can safely park their vehicles.
Read also: Muscat gets tough with rogue parkers as new fines launched
Drivers feel Muscat Municipality should provide better facilities and more parking before raising the fees and the fines for the small allocation of parking spaces currently available.
Some drivers have reported that they are forced to park their vehicles on sidewalks and in dusty wasteland due to lack of parking, especially near hospitals, banks and other places providing public services.
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Some motorists on social media have said they are resigned to receiving a parking fine whenever they have to go to a bank or hospital in Muscat. However a reliable source at Muscat Municipality revealed that the new fees and fines will be effective only on parking areas under the municipality control.
“Public parking areas with meters installed are the ones meant in the local order issued recently by Muscat Municipality,” said Said Al Rawahi, Director Assistant of Income at Muscat Municipality.
He added that other areas where no meters are installed do not come under the new fines and fees. “Other areas are under the Royal Oman Police ROP control and fines are issued from their side. The municipality only fines those who violate the regulations while parking in metered public parking or surrounding areas,” said Al Rawahi.
He explained that the public parking with meters installed are in different areas in Muscat including Central Business District (CBD), Qurum Commercial area, Muttrah Souq, Muttrah coastal road, Seeb market, Al Khoudh market and Al Ghubra North.
Thousands of customers visit various offices, including major banks in the Central Business District (CBD) of Muscat in the peak hours of the day and the parking facilities – just a few hundred - are not sufficient to provide parking slots to all the visitors, according to motorists.
Times of Oman found many cars parking on the footpaths of the main roads of the CBD area.
“The municipality’s decision to control the parking violation has to be welcomed but they have to consider the lack of parking slots in the CBD area,” Sathish Kumar, an Indian expat who works as a financial advisor, told the Times of Oman.
“I have to spare more than 20 minutes to find parking near Bank Muscat MBD branch,” he added.
“The municipality should provide good and proper infrastructure before imposing the huge fines to the residents. Sometimes we are forced to violate the rules because of unavailability of parking space,” Majeed Khalid, a Pakistani expat who found it difficult to find a parking slot, said.
“Municipality just thought of increasing their revenue but they have forgotten to develop the facilities, according to Midhun Keshav, an Indian expat who came to withdraw cash from Bank Muscat.
“I just saw the reports in the newspaper this morning and was a little tense to park in unallocated areas so I have to park my car in the parking areas of the supermarket near to the Star Cinema and to walk all the way from there to the National Bank of Oman,” Sachindas told Times of Oman.
Residents who park their vehicles on open ground are also confused about the parking as they don’t have any other slots available. “We don’t have any other option to park my car other than in the open dusty ground. I don’t like to park it there but I am forced to do so,” an Indian expat who is working in an office near to the Times of Oman office, said.
“Every day it is covered with dust and I have to wash it daily,” he added. A local order by Muscat Municipality was issued imposing new fees and heftier fines on those violating the regulations when using public parking in Muscat.
The fines list goes from OMR 10 up to OMR 500 for different violations. However, the order has excluded ambulances, police patrol, civil defence vehicles, municipality vehicles and government vehicles approved by the municipality.
The order issued by Eng Mohsen bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Shaikh, Chairman of Muscat Municipality, also says that motorists have to pay 200 baiza as parking fee for every hour and those interested in booking the parking lot for the whole month have to pay OMR50 while they have to pay OMR15 as a fee for private parking permit.
The new fees and fines imposed by Muscat Municipality will hopefully push motorists to better adhere to the regulations and avoid violations, said a reliable source at Muscat Municipality.
“The Municipality came across different violations which represent bad behaviour by motorists and it’s time to face such violators with heftier fines,” said Al Rawahi.
He said that the old fees and fines were imposed since 1997 and it’s now time to update them.
“Parking in public parking without paying the fee fine was OMR 3. However, some motorists don’t take such amount of money as a big issue,” said Al Rawahi.