EP starts paid, on-street parking

Motorists who park their vehicles in the commercial districts of Dammam or Alkhobar will need to pay before they park or face a fine. Repeat offenders vehicles will be towed away.
Paid parking, or on-street parking, is now being fully implemented in the two Eastern Province cities.

This is the first project of its kind in the Kingdom, said Hafiz Azzubair, contracts manager at the National Parking Company, which is enforcing the system in cooperation with the municipalities, the Traffic Department and police.

The purpose is to ease traffic congestion in the cities busy areas. The system is in full motion, and our enforcers are issuing penalties in Alkhobar and Dammam.

Azzubair said paid parking is enforced from 8 a.m. to 12 noon and then from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Parking is free at other times and whole day on Fridays.

For the first two hours, you will have to pay one riyal per hour. So from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. it is SR1 per hour. Thereafter this charge rises to SR2. The same is true for the second shift, he said.

Reactions to the system has been mixed. Some people are upset because they have to shell out money for something they were enjoying for free before. However, the shoppers are very happy. Now, because of the changed parking system they have enough spaces to park their vehicles and enjoy shopping in ease and comfort, Azzubair said.

Its a big relief for the shoppers. When we come for shopping to Alkhobar, parking has always been a nightmare, said British expatriate David Wilson.

Now we dont mind spending a couple of riyals on safe parking. We have peace of mind, and we are enjoying it. Merchants also welcome the new system. It is a great idea, said Ibrahim Al-Saad, a shop owner on a busy Alkhobar street.

We have seen our business improving because of the availability of parking now. Azzubair said there are more than 150 parking meters in Alkhobar and an equal number in Dammam.

All of them are operational, he said. There are clear instructions in English and Arabic on the machines. There are various ways to pay. One will eventually be through the Mawgif Prepaid Card.

These cards will be available soon. They will be in SR100 denominations, and will have a long validity period, so if you buy one it will put you in good stead for a long time.

The other method of payment is by cash, using either SR1 or 50 halala coins. As soon as a coin is inserted, the meter displays the amount deposited and the time paid for. Pressing the green button dispenses a ticket with an expiration time on it, which should be placed face up and visible on the vehicles dashboard.

Our enforcers are always patrolling the streets, and if your vehicle either does not have the ticket or has an expired ticket it will be subject to a penalty, Azzubair said.

If there are more than three violations, the vehicle will be towed to a holding area.

Enforcement supervisor Mohammad Abdul Latif Al-Haimood says some people just do not understand the system.

They get angry and never let our people explain what this on-street paid parking is all about, he said. Young people are very difficult to handle. They either dont understand or are unwilling to understand.

Avoiding the parking spaces will not work either. Any vehicle that is parked in areas such as sidewalks or pedestrian walkways will receive a penalty, Azzubair said.
City of Dammam
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